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It's been nearly 50 years since a human last stepped on the surface of the moon.
Back in December 1972, NASA was more than three years separated from Neil Armstrong's famous first steps on the lunar surface.
That month, the Apollo 17 mission landed on the moon and safely returned back to Earth.
Five decades later, NASA is working to put humans back on the moon as part of its Artemis program.
One of the biggest steps to make that pursuit possible is the launch of Artemis I, an unmanned mission around the moon to test rocket and flight equipment.
Artemis I was planned to launch Monday, however the mission was scrubbed due to technical issues with the launch system rocket.
While Lawrence County is nearly 800 miles away from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the history of space flight runs deep within its borders.
Three NASA astronauts have called Lawrence County home during their lives.
Gus Grissom, Charlie Walker and Kenneth Bowersox spent more than 231 days in space, combined.
Virgil I. 'Gus' Grissom was born April 3, 1926 in Mitchell.
According to the book "Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut" by Ray Boomhower, Grissom first became interested in aviation while spending time at a Bedford airport.
Grissom enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces, the predecessor to what is now the U.S. Air Force, during his senior year at Mitchell High School. He graduated from MHS in 1944.
After being discharged from the military in November 1945, Grissom returned to Mitchell.
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About a year later, during the fall semester of 1946, Grissom enrolled at Purdue University.
He completed his mechanical engineering degree from Purdue in February 1950.
After his graduation from Purdue, Grissom reenlisted in the U.S. Air Force and saw action during the Korean War.
By 1956, Grissom was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where he earned a degree in aeromechanics from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
On April 13, 1959, Grissom was notified that he had been selected as one of the first seven NASA astronauts, commonly referred to as the Mercury Seven.
The Mercury Seven name was derived from Project Mercury, which was the first American human spaceflight program.
On July 21, 1961, Grissom became the second American in space during the Mercury-Redstone 4 mission aboard the Liberty Bell 7 capsule.
Grissom's first flight in space lasted less than 16 minutes.
About four years later, Grissom returned to space as part of the Gemini 3 mission, which was the first crewed flight for Gemini, aboard the Molly Brown space capsule.
The Molly Brown is now housed on at the Gus Grissom Memorial at Spring Mill State Park.
Project Gemini was the precursor to the Apollo program, which eventually landed the first man on the moon in 1969.
Grissom, along with Edward White and Roger Chaffee, were selected for the Apollo 1 mission, set to launch on Feb. 21, 1967.
However, on Jan. 27, 1967, all three men were killed due to a cabin fire during a launch rehearsal.
Grissom was 40 at the time of his death and laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The second Lawrence County native to spend time in space was Charlie Walker.
Walker is a 1966 graduate of Bedford High School who, like Grissom, attended and graduated from Purdue University.
Walker served as a payload specialist for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation aboard three Space Shuttle missions known as STS-41-D in 1984, STS-51-D in 1985 and STS-61-B in 1985.
"While never an employee of NASA, he has been extensively involved in payload preparation and on-pad processing support activities at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and in flight support at the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas," NASA's biography of Walker notes. "He was responsible for training the NASA astronaut crews in the operation of the CFES payload on STS-4, STS-6, STS-7, and STS-8 shuttle flights during 1982 and 1983."
He retired from Boeing in 2005.
Bowersox is the most recent Lawrence County native to spend time in space, and of the three has spent the longest time in the cosmos at more than 211 days above Earth.
According to his NASA biography, Bowersox was born on Nov. 14, 1956 in Portsmouth, Va.
However, he thinks of Bedford to be his hometown.
Bowersox is a 1974 graduate of Bedford High School, the final class before the opening of Bedford North Lawrence High School.
In 1978, he earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University a year later in 1979.
Bowersox's first mission to space took place in 1992 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia during the STS-50 mission, in which he served as the flight's pilot.
He also served as a pilot aboard STS-61 in 1993 on Space Shuttle Endeavour.
During the STS-73 mission aboard Columbia, Bowersox became the youngest person to command a Space Shuttle when the flight was launched on Oct. 20, 1995.
Bowersox also served as the commander for the STS-82 mission from Feb. 11 to Feb. 21, 1997.
Between Nov. 25, 2002 and May 3, 2003, Bowersox spent about half a year in space during the Expedition 6 mission to the International Space Station.
Bowersox was launched for that mission as part of STS-113 and returned aboard the Soyuz TMA-1 mission.
While his spaceflight days are over, Bowersox continues to work in the space industry.
From 2009 to 2011, he served as Vice President of Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance for SpaceX.
In November 2013, he joined NASA's Advisory Council and has served as chair of the Human Exploration and Operations Committee.
For nearly six months from June 2016 to January 2017, Bowersox served as interim chair of the NASA Advisory Council.
He was named acting associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate on July 10, 2019.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Three NASA astronauts have called Lawrence County home