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Retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly touches down as keynote speaker for Women in Leadership Awards

Posted at 7:24 PM, May 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-12 08:23:19-04

Even though he has both feet firmly planted on the ground now, retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly still wants to take space exploration to new heights.

So after conquering space, he was on a new mission Thursday, encouraging teens who were attending the Women in Leadership Awards to reach for the stars.

Kelly said the future of space travel is important.

Congress just approved a $19 billion budget for NASA.

It's a budget, he says, that is worth every penny.

“I'm not only talking technologies, I mean we get industries from that. So it's well worth the investment we make,” Captain Kelly says.

Where does Mars sit on that agenda?

“It's not the rocket science that we have to figure out, it's the political science,” he says. “So first of all, we need the American People will want to do this.”

You don't have to ask Alexandria Neil twice.

“Mars! Who doesn't want to go to Mars..that's great!” she says.

The 14-year-old grew up in the shadow of Cape Canaveral.

“When the shuttles would go off, you can hear the house shaking and everything is rattling,” she recalls.

The message she took away from Captain Kelly is one intertwined in the rich history of our space program.

“You're going to fail,” Alexandria says. “There are times you're going to fail. But it's not a setback, it's a stepping stone.”

Meaning the journey should continue.

“I don't think we have a choice, I mean, we're explorers!” Captain Kelly says.