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'Leaving Orbit' cheers spaceflight's feats, mourns its fading
'Leaving Orbit' cheers spaceflight's feats, mourns its fading

In 1969, the moon landing brought together a nation, millions slack-jawed in the glow of their televisions. In 1986, the explosion of the Challenger became a defining moment for a generation of schoolchildren. But how many of us remember the blastoff of Atlantis in 2011 — the final flight of NASA's manned space shuttle program? Margaret Lazarus Dean, an English professor at the University of Tennessee, remembers it vividly. In her new book "Leaving Orbit," she traces the trajectory from the first event to the third — from electrifying ambition to widespread indifference. By the time Atlantis took off, few Americans even noticed that the program was ending. Dean...

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