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Robeson Man Still Has Dreams Of Being In Space Again

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RALEIGH, N.C. — While the investigation into the cause of the space shuttle Columbia disaster will continue for months or possibly years, a North Carolian man who set his sight on space a long time ago is already looking toward the future of manned flight.

When Bill McArthur was growing up in Robeson County, he reached for the stars. His first mission to space was aboard the shuttle Columbia 10 years ago.

"I think it's in our nature to mentally grow, to expand, and we do that by learning new things and that's what space exploration is about," he said.

McArthur knows that some people question the value and risk of space flight. He said it is a topic he had to wrestle with himself.

"My first flight was seven years after the Challenger accident, and we know the members of the astronaut community know that space flight is risky. We choose to accept the risk," he said.

Before space tourism becomes common, NASA has a way to go in its investigation of the Columbia accident.

"I am convinced that we will identify what happened, we will fix it and we will fly the shuttles again," McArthur said. "If [they] were willing to schedule the shuttle to launch tomorrow, I would ask to be on that crew."

McArthur has flown in three missions. His latest flight was on Discovery in 2000.


Richard Adkins, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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