NASA announces crew for commercial spaceships

Michele Stevens
August 9, 2018

NASA also named today the astronauts for those flights: Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins will fly aboard the first operational Crew Dragon, while John Cassada and Sunita Williams will fly aboard the first operational Starliner. Astronauts have since been flown to the ISS aboard Russian rockets launched in Kazakhstan. The race to get astronauts to the space station first is real; a USA flag that flew on the first space shuttle flight in 1981 and the last shuttle flight in 2011, awaits the victor.

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

"This is a big deal for our country and we want America to know that we are back, that we are flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", Bridenstine said in Houston. Both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon will need to meet stringent safety requirements and prove they are fit for regular flights. These astronauts were Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley, and Sunita Williams.

Their voyages are scheduled to begin next year, and they would be the first American astronauts to launch from USA soil since 2011.

There were reports that Chris Ferguson, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and a Boeing employee at present, will fly the Starliner for its crewed flight test. Ferguson piloted the Atlantis mission to the ISS in September 2006.

Prior to their maiden crewed missions, both Boeing and SpaceX plan uncrewed test flights in late 2018 or early 2019. Mann was selected as an astronaut in 2013. It will mark Mann's first trip to space.

"It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the ISS", he added.

The crew for Boeing's Crew Flight Test and SpaceX's Demo-2 flights will each include at least a flight commander and pilot aboard to test out the systems.

The Boeing and SpaceX crewed test missions are arguably the most anticipated spaceship test flights this century.

Boeing's Starliner will soar on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets.

"It is quite possible that the UAE government will contract for flights to space with both Space X and Boeing as well as with Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft, which will be flying to space in about 18 to 24 months".

"Because of the hard work of the folks that are here, and so many others, and an administration that is absolutely committed to space exploration, the health of NASA and our space exploration program is as strong as its ever been and it's getting stronger every day." said Bridenstine.

NASA's continuous presence on the space station for nearly 18 years has enabled technology demonstrations and research in biology and biotechnology, Earth and space science, human health, physical sciences. Journey on one of the last shuttle missions to witness some final "firsts" made aboard this unique spacecraft. He has logged more than 40 days in space across three space shuttle missions. He also serves as a Navy commander, naval aviator and was a test pilot.

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