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Retired Astronaut On Risks Of Space Travel: 'You Never Get Over Your Fears'

Getting people into space involves a lot of risks. From the explosive fuel needed to launch a rocket to the flecks of space dust that could poke a hole in an orbiting shuttle, astronauts are always prepared for the worst.

Wendy Lawrence, a retired astronaut and naval aviator living in Washington state, understood the risks of her job even when seven of her colleagues were killed reentering the Earth's atmosphere in 2003.

After the Columbia shuttle tragedy, Lawrence went right back to work, helping NASA get ready to launch again. Lawrence tells Sound Effect's Jennifer Wing about what it was like to go back into space after this tragic event and why space travel is rewarding to everyone here on planet Earth. 

This story originally aired on Nov. 5, 2016

Sound Effect producer Allie Ferguson has been making radio for nearly 5 years. She got her start at KUOW and has since traveled the country working for national news shows including WNYC's The Takeaway and NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. Allie won a 2016 Gracie Award, which celebrates women in media, for her work at KUOW. She enjoys telling surprising stories about passionate people.