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Oklahomans in Space: A look back through history

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Posted at 3:23 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 16:23:53-04

For the first time in nine years, American astronauts will lift off to space.

The privately-funded SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will take astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS), weather permitting.

READ MORE: NASA's Wednesday launch marks major milestone

As Oklahomans settle in to watch the historic launch, many can reflect on the astronauts from Oklahoma or ties to Oklahoma who experienced space first hand.

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society website, there are at least 15 Oklahomans have have ties to space.

Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. was born in 1927 in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
By eight years old, Cooper flew his family's airplane and later joined the Marines in World War II, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. In 1949, he transferred to the Air Force. Ten years later, NASA selected Cooper to be an astronaut. Cooper's missions consisted of Mercury and Gemini 5. Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. spent a total of 222 hours in space.

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Mercury 7 astronauts

Owen Garriott was born in 1930 in Enid, Oklahoma.
Garriott was a radio station engineer in high school and later joined the US Navy ROTC in college, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. In 1960, he received his PhD from Standford University in electricial engineering. Garriott's missions consisted of Skylab-3 and STS-9/Spacelab-1. Owen Garriott spent a total of 1,674 hours and 56 minutes in space.

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Slylab 3 astronaut Owen Garriott on a spacewalk

Thomas Stafford was born in 1930 in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
Stafford first joined the US Naval Academy and went on to join the US Air Force, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. He is known for his mission on Apollo-Soyuz when he and Russian astronaut shook hands. This was known as the "handshake in space." Stafford's missions included: Gemini 6, Gemini 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo-Soyuz. He spent a total of 407 hours and 43 minutes in space.

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Thomas Stafford touching snoopy, the mission's mascot, for good luck

William Pogue was born in 1930 in Okemah, Oklahoma.
Pogue earned his Master of Science from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) and later fought in the Korean War in the US Air Force, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. Pogue was a pilot for the last, and longest, Skylab mission called Skylab 4. He spent a total of 2,107 hours in space.

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Pogue is balanced on one finger by another astronaut

SEE MORE: Other native Oklahomans with space experience

Fred Haise was born in 1933 in joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard after attending the University of Oklahoma.
Haise became an astronaut for NASA in 1966. "He was the Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 13," according the the Oklahoma Historical Society. Unfortunately, the Apollo 13 mission was cut short after an explosion the the command module caused the astronauts to move tot he lunar module in order to get back to earth. Haise flew everyone back safely but was disappointed he never made it to the moon. He spent a total of 142 hours and 54 minutes in space.

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Apollo 13 crew, Fred Haise on far right

Stuart Allen Roosa was born in 1933 in attended high school in Claremore, Oklahoma.
Roosa first worked for the US Forest Service fighting fires and later joined the US Air Force, according the the Oklahoma Historical Society. He was a part of the Apollo 14 mission. While two other austronauts walked the moon, Roosa orbited. Thirty-three of his 217 hours in space were spent orbiting the moon.

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The Apollo 14 Command Module with astronaut Stuart Allen Roosa landing in the Pacific Ocean

Shannon Lucid was born in 1943 and raised in Bethany, Oklahoma.
NASA selected Lucid as one of the first female astronauts, according the the Oklahoma Historical Society. Her missions included: STS-51G, STS-34, STS-43, STS-58 and STS-76. Lucid's last mission, Mir, was as an engineer for the Russian Space Station.

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Shannon Lucid

John Herrington was born in 1958 in Wetumka, Oklahoma.
Herrington, of the Chickasaw tribe, joined the Navy and later earmed a MS degree from the US Navy Postgraduate School, according the the Oklahoma Historical Society.
He was the first American Indian to go into space. Herrington's mission STS-113 allowed him to fly the Endeavor shuttle to the International Space Station. He spent a total of 330 hours and 47 minutes in space.

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John Herrington

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