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Return to Flight: WMFE Special Explores New Beginning for U.S. Human Space Travel



ORLANDO — WMFE, "America's Space Station," will present a special program, just hours before the first human launch from the U.S. in nearly a decade.

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Tune in to WMFE at noon May 27 for 'Return to Flight' hosted by space reporter Brendan Byrne.[/caption]

Return to Flight
May 27 at noon on WMFE / Check with your station for airtime
Hosted by WMFE space reporter and Are We There Yet? podcast host Brendan Byrne, Return to Flight explores what it means for the U.S. to end the reliance on the Russians for rides to the International Space Station and how Florida and the country’s economies could grow jobs, invent new technologies and restore pride in American space travel. Interviews with astronauts, administrators and other space experts bring the wonderment of American’s obsession with outer space down to Earth to inspire the next generation of explorers.

Livestream the launch
May 27 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Then, join us on our Facebook page around 4:25 p.m. ET to watch a live update from Byrne and a live stream of the countdown and launch from SpaceX (launch window opens at 4:32 p.m. ET).

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SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule[/caption]

How we got here:
Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, NASA relied on the Russian space agency Roscosmos for rides to the International Space Station. Now, after working with commercial partners SpaceX and Boeing for nearly nine years, SpaceX will launch the first NASA astronauts on a commercial vehicle – ending the reliance on the Russians for rides to the station.

Florida’s Space Coast takes center stage on this historic mission. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley plan to launch from Kennedy Space Center on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday, May 27, at 4:32 p.m. ET. The duo will ride in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, only the 9th new human space vehicle and the first commercial human space capsule rated for human flights.

Return to Flight features interviews with:

Former NASA administrator Charlie Bolden oversaw the transition from Shuttle to Commercial Crew. We’ll speak about his initial vision for the program and his thoughts on seeing astronauts launch once again from the U.S. Bolden is a former astronaut who flew on four Space Shuttle missions.

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Bob Cabana[/caption]

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana talks about how the spaceport transitioned from a federal base to support private space companies launching humans and how Shuttle-era facilities are being recycled to support a new generation of astronauts launching from Florida. Cabana, also a former astronaut, reflects on the gravity of this moment – his Space Shuttle missions that launched from Florida helped build the International Space Station. Now, he’s overseeing the program to get more astronauts to the orbiting lab from those very same launch pads.

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Nicole Stott[/caption]

What’s launch day like for an astronaut? Veteran Space Shuttle astronaut Nicole Stott walks us through launch day – from the last meal on Earth to anticipating the final seconds before liftoff and the nap she took in between! Stott also speaks about the mental preparations ahead of a spaceflight, saying goodbye to her son before liftoff and the conversations about risk she had with her family before launch.

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Dale Ketcham[/caption]

Commercial companies funneled much of NASA’s $6 billion through Florida’s economy. Commercial crew helped the Space Coast recover in the wake of the Space Shuttle retirement and helped stem its most recent development. Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham speaks to the short and long-term economic impact of the business of human space launches in Florida.

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Brendan Byrne[/caption]

About the Host:

Brendan Byrne is WMFE’s space reporter and contributor to NPR newsmagazines. He also hosts Are We There Yet?, a new radio show and four-year-old podcast that focuses on human space exploration. His stories are heard statewide through a partnership of more than a dozen Florida radio stations, and nationally on NPR and internationally on the BBC. Byrne is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

How to Listen at noon May 27:

• Tune to 90.7-FM (or 89.5-FM in Ocala and The Villages).

• Stream online at wmfe.org or in the WMFE mobile app.

• Tell your smart speaker to "Play NPR".

Other Public Radio Stations Carrying this Program:

• WLRN in Miami

• WFIT in Melbourne

• WQCS in Fort Pierce

• WUFT in Gainesville

• WJCT in Jacksonville

• WGCU in Fort Myers

• WABE in Atlanta

Are you a fellow public radio station who'd like to carry this special program? Contact Stephen Yasko,director of content and audience development, for details. Content Depot listing >>

About Community Communications Inc.:

Community Communications Inc. is a locally owned, and operated, non-profit public media organization that operates 90.7 WMFE-FM, metro Orlando’s primary provider of NPR programming; 90.7-2 Classical; and 89.5 WMFV, public radio for The Villages, Leesburg and The Golden Triangle. Listener-supported Community Communications has been serving the community since 1980 with trusted news and programming from a local, national and international perspective. Visit wmfe.org and wmfv.org for more information.

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MEDIA INQUIRIES: Please contact Communications & Marketing Specialist Jenny Babcock at jbabcock@wmfe.org or 407-273-2300 ext. 112.