Nasa names astronauts for first commercial flights

Christopher Davidson
August 7, 2018

Both Boeing and SpaceX say their spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner and the Crew Dragon, respectively, will be ready for launch sometime next year.

The SpaceX crewed test flight, now scheduled for April 2019, will be flown by NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

After announcing the crews, Bridenstine engaged in a largely lighthearted question-and-answer session with the selected astronauts, who expressed their delight in being selected and anticipation in flying on these next-generation vehicles.

Since 2010, that program has inched along, moving ever-closer to crewed and uncrewed test flights.

When this ship makes its maiden demonstration flight in the middle of next year, launching atop an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Ferguson will be joined by Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann. If any further delays creep up, NASA's astronauts may be temporarily stranded on Earth. Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the USA has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, launched from Kazakhstan, to get astronauts to the ISS.

NASA awaits the completion of both companies' test flights before certifying either safe for use to return astronauts on low-Earth-orbit missions. But that same propellant can be deadly to humans if not stored carefully. Boeing believes they know what caused the problem and a fix is in the works. Astronauts Sunita Williams, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken and Eric Boe have spent the past three years working with Boeing and SpaceX on their commercial crew spaceships.

US President Donald Trump also praised the news while giving himself a pat on the back: "Nasa, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and SpaceX space flights", he tweeted.

That system will likely fly some time early next decade. He has a doctorate in engineering and is a flight test engineer and colonel in the Air Force.

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NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will crew the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight. He flew on Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2008 with fellow Georgia Tech graduates Sandy Magnus and Shane Kimbrough. Josh Cassada and Suni Williams will be the second crew for the Starliner and Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins will be the second crew for the Dragon.

This will be the first trip into space for Mr. Glover, Mr. Cassada and Ms. Mann.

Both Crew Dragon and Starliner are created to carry four astronauts.

"Future Commercial Crew astronauts will be riding to space on partner vehicles built by SpaceX & BoeingSpace", NASA said in a tweet.

After the ending of space shuttle program in 2011, NASA astronauts were travelling to the ISS aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

Williams has spent 322 days in space as part of two expeditions: 14/15 and 32/33.

The announcement marks an important milestone for NASA's Commercial Crew program, which has paid Boeing and SpaceX $6.8 billion since 2014. Journey on one of the last shuttle missions to witness some final "firsts" made aboard this unique spacecraft. Similarly, the first Starliner is being now being outfitted for launch at Kennedy Space Center, and the test flight's Atlas V Centaur upper stage-never flown in the dual-engine configuration-ships to Florida in August.

NASA has named the crew of astronauts tasked with reviving America's prowess in extraterrestrial travel. However, at least one source already disagrees.

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