NASA names astronauts for Boeing, SpaceX flights

Boeing Starliner

NASA has unveiled the first astronauts to fly on private spaceships built by SpaceX and Boeing, and, just like the original Mercury Seven, NASA's first astronauts announced in 1959, these 21st century space travelers have "the right stuff". The astronauts will fly Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

Mr. Behnken, Mr. Boe, Mr. Hurley and Mr. Williams were named in 2015 as NASA's "commercial crew cadre" and have been working with Boeing and SpaceX on the development of the spacecraft and the simulators that will be used to train astronauts to fly.

Earlier this year, NASA unveiled a commercial crew schedule that called for the first uncrewed test flights by SpaceX and Boeing this month. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space". He flew on two flights of the space shuttle including the final mission, Atlantis's STS-135.

This is an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to US soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.

The aviation companies will be conducting test flights at the end of this year and next, and astronauts will leave for the worldwide space station Cape Canaveral in Florida next spring or summer.

On board Starliner's first mission will be NASA veteran Sunita Williams, a retired Navy captain and experienced space shuttle astronaut, and Josh Cassada, a Navy pilot making his first flight to space. It will be Mr. Glover's first time in space. The other commercial crew members are still with NASA.

NASA named nine astronauts who will be on the first space flights launched from U.S. soil since the shuttle program ended in 2011.

Nasa took the decision after the shuttle retired to turn transportation to low-Earth obit destinations into a service that it could buy.

Clockwise from top left: Sunita Williams, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Eric Boe. Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly with SpaceX.

"As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this", said Mann, a Naval aviator.

And astronauts will fly on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner sometime after that, in the middle of 2019.

For SpaceX, a demonstration flight with no passengers is set for November 2018, and the first manned flight set for April 2019.

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, " said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who introduced the astronauts at Johnson Space Center in Houston in Friday. Though that will require final certification for International Space Station deliveries first, the space agency has already confirmed partial crews for those first missions. The capsules, made by SpaceX and Boeing, will ferry the astronauts and cargo back and forth to the International Space Station.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended NASA pursue a backup plan for getting astronauts to the ISS, as its contract with Russian Federation to send them to the station via Soyuz launches in Kazakhstan ends at the end of 2019. When he was in high school, Ferguson became "intrigued" with joining the Navy and flying jets, he said.

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