WE tried hopefully, but we could not spot it, this rocket on its historic mission to take Bob and Doug to the International Space Station this weekend.

I like the sound of Bob and Doug. Former military pilots, friends since space agency, all crew cuts and coolness under pressure, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are Proper Men of Nasa.

You’d go to one of their barbecues, wouldn’t you? Not least because they are married to fellow astronauts, oceanographer Megan McArthur and mechanical engineer Karen Nyberg.

Nyberg became the 50th woman in space on her first mission in 2008; McArthur has served as Capsule Communicator for both the space shuttle and space station. Pioneering, inspiring - proper Women of Nasa. They would have excellent chat over the chicken skewers and coleslaw.

It was unexpected to hear the central characters of an exciting new space adventure described as if they were a novelty pop act or next-door neighbours in a 70s sitcom, but nothing about Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 venture was predictable. It’s space, Jim, but not as we know it.

By becoming the first private company to send humans into orbit, AND deploying reusable rockets, SpaceX has kick-started a new era of space travel and however you feel about Musk and his antics, that is undeniably exciting.

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(I went off him when he sent that car up into orbit. An expensive, fancy sportscar, spinning away from Earth for no reason whatsoever for “maybe in excess of a billion years”? Ridiculous. Nothing short of galactic flytipping.)

Chances of seeing Falcon 9 from a back garden a few miles south of Glasgow were slim, admittedly, but it was worth a try.

Our sense of adventure has taken a bashing in lockdown. We needed to be reminded that soon, this will pass, and we will be able to roam and ramble and soar and explore again. In that respect, Falcon 9 delivered.

The 12-year-old, closer than his older brother to the days of considering astronaut as a viable career option, was rooted to the screen as the countdown began. His older brother was impressed, albeit with the mild cynicism of the world-weary teenager, and watched intently as the first NASA mission-with-astronauts to launch from US soil in nine years took off.

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It does not matter how weird the world is, or how busy or restless or too-cool-for-school you are, a rocket launching people into space still has the power to stop us happily in our tracks.

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