When David Hannah and Deke Slayton’s Conestoga 1 lifted off from Texas’ Matagorda Island on Sept. 9, 1982, becoming the first privately funded rocket to reach space, author James Michener compared the feat to the Wright brothers’ success at Kitty Hawk.  In a letter, then-President Ronald Reagan told Hannah, a Houston entrepreneur who had founded Space Services and hired former astronaut Slayton to run it, that “in blazing a new trail through the skies, you ...

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