NASA names 9 astronauts for first Boeing, SpaceX flights

Cristina Cross
August 7, 2018

NASA on Friday announced the crews of the first flights from US soil since the space shuttle retired in 2011, an elite group of astronauts that the agency hopes will help open a new era of space travel.

Ferguson commanded the final mission of the space shuttle program, and Hurley was the pilot on that flight.

On August 3, NASA announced the names of nine astronauts to fly the commercially developed space missions, and one of the crew members is Sunita Williams.

NASA will announce the astronauts for the first test flights and missions of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft Friday.

Boeing plans to do an uncrewed flight test of its CST-100 Starliner later this year or early next year. Eric Boe is a former Air Force fighter pilot and test pilot, who previously piloted space shuttle Endeavour on the STS-126 mission and Discovery on its final flight, STS-133.

They will be the first Americans to launch into space from USA soil since NASA's space shuttle program retired in 2011.Since then, the US has relied on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to carry Americans space. "To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station".

Since 2011, the United States has relied on Russian Federation to ferry astronauts to the space station.

As for the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight, that will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

However, there is still much work to be done before the nine and men women chosen to head to the International Space Station can safely embark on NASA's new ships.

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In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX were awarded a combined $6.8 billion in contracts from NASA to develop spacecraft capable of flying crews to the station, the orbiting laboratory.

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. That flight is now projected to lift off in April of 2019.

Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot. She has logged 322 days in space.

Now, SpaceX will launch its uncrewed test flight in November 2018, with the first crewed flight next spring.

Space X's Dragon will be tested by Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, and Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will be on the crew for that mission.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.

Last week, Boeing confirmed that it had a problem with its launch abort system, which is created to ferry crews to safety in the event of an emergency. The public-private partnerships fostered by the program will stimulate growth in a robust commercial space industry and spark life-changing innovations for future generations.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule, on current timelines, is set to make its maiden crewed flight in April.

An unmanned Boeing flight test is scheduled for later this year, while the first flight with the crew is expected to take place in mid-2019, NASA said. Williams has the most diverse space background of the astronauts named today, having flown on both the shuttle and Soyuz and served aboard the International Space Station for two long-duration expeditions in 2006 through 2007 and 2012. "We're not going to let you down".

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