The Stars are Ours! is a 1954 science fiction novel by Andre Norton. It is split into two parts, the first set on Earth, the second on an unexplored new world.
Nationalists vie with the the supranational Free Scientists over the future of mankind. When a group of men (probably nationalists in disguise) take control of a space station and accidentally(?) kill billions, the Free Scientists are blamed; most are quickly either killed outright or enslaved.
Chemist Lars Nordis conducts research in secret, while his younger brother Dard and his daughter Dessie eke out a precarious living on a farm. One day, a greedy neighbor discovers he is a scientist and kills him, but not before he has completed his work and had Dard and Dessie memorize the results. Hunted, the two make their way to the last hidden bastion of the Free Scientists. They are building the first starship there, and Lars' findings are essential; they must use "cold sleep" (suspended animation) in order to have any hope of surviving the long, long journey. They launch under fire, as the authorities discover their hiding place at last, and take the desperate gamble that the untested cold sleep will work and that they can find a habitable planet before the ship fails.
The gamble succeeds, though some never wake from the cold sleep. The planet they land on is hospitable. However, they soon find a rocket filled with alien goods, then a long-abandoned city. When Dessie rescues an alien child, its parents emerge from the sea cautiously, and friendly relations are established. The humans learn that the sea people are descendants of slaves of the city builders who escaped when their cruel masters fought a devastating war. None of the city builders remain on this continent, but there may be survivors elsewhere.
Best part of story, including ending:
The thrill and excitement of preparing for and taking the first interstellar flight while under imminent danger of attack.
Best scene in story:
For excitement, you can't beat the delaying battle before takeoff. On the other hand, the first exploration of the new planet was good in a more peaceful way.
Opinion about the main character:
Dard Nordis is a fairly two-dimensional character, not too surprising for '50s science fiction. Norton does a good job making the reader sympathize with him, but there's nothing particularly original about him.