EDITORIAL: SpaceX launch provides a point of American pride

With all that is happening in our nation ranging from the coronavirus to racial tensions reignited by the death of an unarmed black man by police in Minnesota, Saturday's SpaceX launch of two American astronauts to the International Space Station was a welcomed moment of American pride.

"The whole world saw this mission, and we are so, so proud of everything you have done for our country and, in fact, to inspire the world," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said, as reported in the Southeast Missourian by the Associated Press, in a call from Mission Control in Houston.

This was the first U.S. space shuttle mission since 2011 and the first new manned U.S. spacecraft since 1981.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were on hand for the historic launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"Those of us who saw the spectacular and unforgettable liftoff this afternoon watched more than an act of history; we watched an act of heroism," the president said after the launch. "Every time our astronauts climb aboard a rocket -- which is many, many stories of only engine and fuel -- and vault across the sky, they display breathtaking valor. What Colonel Douglas Hurley and Colonel Robert Behnken did this afternoon was pure American genius and courage."

Southeast Missouri has its own connection to space through Jackson native Linda Godwin. The retired astronaut who resides in Columbia, Missouri spoke with Southeast Missourian reporter Jeff Long about the mission, returning to the moon and potentially one day the exploration of Mars. If you missed the story in Thursday's Southeast Missourian, be sure to give it a read with this editorial on semissourian.com.

It brings us great pride to see America return to space with a renewed energy. Space exploration has led to much innovation over the years, and continued efforts -- such as privately-financed SpaceX and ongoing work by NASA -- have the potential to positively benefit America and the world for years to come.

Yes, America has its challenges. We're not perfect. But moments like the one we witnessed Saturday in Florida give us reason to be proud. We pray for the safety of our astronauts as they complete their work and return to earth.