NASA set to announce astronauts for SpaceX, Boeing missions

Ismael LynchAug 04, 2018

The two pairs of Nasa crewmates will fly to the station with Russian cosmonauts and worldwide astronauts to be announced at a later date.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is facilitating the development of a USA commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. The tweet's second sentence seems to suggest that Boeing and SpaceX are paying the government to fly the missions.

The first crew to be presented was that of the Boeing Starliner capsule, which will make a trial flight scheduled for mid-2019 and will be boosted into space from Florida's Kennedy Space Center by an Atlas V rocket of the United Launch Alliance.

These pioneering flights to the International Space Station aboard commercially built crew capsules will restore the American ability to send people into orbit for the first time since the U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011. Both vehicles were developed in cooperation with Nasa to deliver crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory.

Boeing has leased two of NASA's old space shuttle hangars at KSC, known as Orbiter Processing Facilities, to build its Starliners and house two small robotic X-37B space planes it built for the Air Force. Williams has already spent more than 300 days on the ISS.

Ferguson will fly with NASA astronauts Eric Boe, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, and Nicole Aunapu Mann on the first crewed test flight of Starliner, now projected to take place in mid-2019.

Boeing plans to do an uncrewed flight test of its CST-100 Starliner later this year or early next year. NASA has been paying Russian Federation for flights launched from remote Kazakhstan to the ISS ever since, banking on its Commercial Crew Program to develop a cheaper, reliable and safe American-based alternative. Boeing's first operational mission to the space station will mark his first time in space. On Friday, the space agency introduced the nine-member team tasked with making the first flights.

If those flights are successful, the companies will be certified by NASA for crew rotation missions. The astronauts are (L to R): Victor Glover, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins, Douglas Hurley, Eric Boe, Sunita Williams, Christopher Ferguson, Josh Cassada, and Nicole Mann. He joined the astronaut corps in 2000 and flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour twice, for the STS-123 and STS-130 missions, during which he performed six spacewalks totaling more than 37 hours.

Ferguson commanded the final mission of the space shuttle program, and Hurley was the pilot on that flight. "For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil". The crew includes shuttle astronauts, crew members from the International Space Station and even some who have never flown out to space.

Glover and Cassada are spaceflight rookies.

Four of the five astronauts named to the first Crew Dragon and Starliner flights are spaceflight veterans.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will be launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. She has logged 322 days in space. "I look forward, sir, to getting you down there at some point out in Hawthorne [SpaceX's California headquarters] and maybe you can sit next to us in the cockpit and go through flying the iPhone to dock to space station".

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