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Modern ‘Space Race’ resonates in river city

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Space Race

PEORIA (HOI) -- Central Illinoisans were left curious after two billionaires blasted off into space.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched into space just days after fellow billionaire Richard Branson. The launches signaled a new kind of "space race" that is resonating in the river city.

Peoria Riverfront Museum planetarium director Renae Kerrigan says they've been fielding lots of space questions from curious visitors lately.

"People are excited about this new entry into space from private citizens flying to space because it helps us imagine, maybe that could be us someday," Kerrigan said.

Staff at the Peoria Riverfront Museum say interest in space is sky high amongst kids and adults alike. One of the most common questions: How do the two different civilian spaceflight missions differ?

Kerrigan says Bezos' Blue Origin flight was a rocket and capsule, while Branson's Virgin Galactic craft was launched from another aircraft while already in the air.

9-year old Reagan visited the Riverfront Museum Tuesday. She says while she wouldn't personally want to be an astronaut, the possibilities in space are endless.

"Maybe normal people, who don't even have, like who aren't billionaires, could go into space some day," Reagan said. "I think that's… Whoa."

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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