ibusinesslines.com August 20, 2018

NASA names 9 astronauts for first Boeing, SpaceX flights

06 August 2018, 02:30 | Justin Tyler

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket

Sunita Williams, the Indian origin United States astronaut, will be among the nine astronauts who would fly the first missions into space on commercially provided rockets and capsules, beginning 2019.

NASA seems confident these dates will hold, and that the commercial crew program is finally on the home stretch.

NASA has named nine USA astronauts who will fly aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the first crewed flight test and mission to the International Space Station.

According to a statement released by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during the announcement of "Launch America", they are on the verge of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.

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.

Besides Ferguson and Mann, the initial commercial crew members are: Eric Boe, Sunita Williams and John Cassada riding on Boeing.

After the ending of space shuttle program in 2011, NASA astronauts were travelling to the ISS aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. It will be Glover's first time in space.

"It's absolutely the opportunity of a lifetime", said Mann.

"We're ushering in this new era of American spaceflight". He is a Navy commander, aviator and test pilot with nearly 3,000 hours flying more than 40 different aircraft.

For SpaceX, the Crew Dragon test flight astronauts are spaceflight veterans, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley. He has logged more than 40 days in space across three space shuttle missions. Thank you. We take it very seriously. NASA will only put astronauts on board once uncrewed flight tests have made the return journey to Earth and spacecraft systems have been validated by data reviews. NASA picked Crew Dragon and Starliner to replace the space shuttle for ISS transportation back in 2014. NASA officials have said it is critical to understanding the challenges of long-duration spaceflight and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and for deep-space missions, including to Mars.

From left to right: NASA Astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins.

Williams will be in the second crew in the Boeing Starliner, which will take them to the ISS. No female astronaut has logged more spacewalk time. "And believe me, it's only going to get better as we charge off into the future". With delays pushing the test flights for both companies back until at least 2019, there is still time. The Starliner test flight will send former military personnel Eric Boe, Christopher Ferguson and Nicole Aunapu Mann on a groundbreaking mission. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by sometime in the middle of next year.

The space agency has reason to be eager. It has also been paying billions for cargo deliveries to the space station by SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.

NASA's investment also aims to boost private industry, which has flocked into low-Earth orbit in recent years for tourism, the satellite industry, and more. I've watched people and teams come together these last few years, and now we're getting close to space flight. Originally, both companies were contractually bound to meet all of NASA's requirements in 2017.

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