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One hundred and eighty-five miles above the planet, suspended between curving, blue horizon and starry blackness, a four-man spacecraft floats in low-Earth orbit. The year is 2020, and the situation routine. Suddenly, a bright tongue of flame erupts from the rear of the craft, signaling a maneuver that hasn't been attempted since before most living humans were born. The craft thrusts sharply forward, away from the marbled orb.