Meet the first astronauts to fly the new SpaceX and Boeing spaceships

05 Août, 2018, 17:41 | Auteur: Therese Cote

"NASA's Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to US soil, providing safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements", said the official blog. The crew includes shuttle astronauts, crew members from the International Space Station and even some who have never flown out to space.

"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

It was back in September 2014 when NASA first announced that SpaceX and Boeing would fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Leading up to the ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the agency: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil".

Crewed test flights will likely occur next spring, with Chris Ferguson, a Boeing vice president who was the commander of the last shuttle mission, Eric Boe, a former shuttle pilot, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, a former Navy pilot who will be making her first space flight, onboard the Boeing CST-100 Starliner. He flew on two flights of the space shuttle including the final mission, Atlantis's STS-135. Announced today is the initial crew manifest for both the test flight and the first mission each company will undertake. 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.

The missions are expected to take the astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The Boeing Starliner test flight will see the craft launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. "I'll tell you, being able to launch to the International Space Station from US soil, I can't imagine better", Cassada said. Boeing and Space Adventures, the USA company that arranged space tourist flights on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, have a partnership that could allow paying passengers to ride in a fifth seat on CST-100 missions for shorter-duration missions.

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NASA has spent billions developing the Space Launch System and its first flight, scheduled for 2020, will send an uncrewed capsule around the moon and back.

"The 7,000 women and men of SpaceX understand what a sacred honor it was for us to be part of this program and for us to fly you", Shotwell told the astronaut crews. Suni Williams, who is best known for running the Boston Marathon on an ISS treadmill, will be joined by rookie astronaut Josh Cassada. He's spent almost 29 days in space. He became a NASA astronaut in 2013. It will be Mr. Cassada's first spaceflight.

For SpaceX, a demonstration flight with no passengers is set for November 2018, and the first manned flight set for April 2019.

For Crew Dragon, the now confirmed crew includes Navy commander, aviator, and test pilot Victor Glover. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009.

Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's worldwide partners at a later date.

NASA paid seed money to SpaceX and Boeing to incentivize them to develop the crew capsules, picking up where the shuttle program left off.

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