September 21, 2018

NASA announces new astronaut class

03 August 2018, 10:23 | Edward Lowe

Streetwear designer Heron Preston has designed a NASA logotype collection in celebration of the space agency's 60 years. Credit Heron Preston

Designer Heron Preston Debuts Spacesuit Streetwear for NASA 60th Anniversary

NASA plans to announce its final decision on the crews - two astronauts for each of the four crewed test flights - on Friday morning.

"NASA's Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to USA 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. In a statement, the agency said that additional crew members for those first post-certification missions "will be assigned by NASA's global partners at a later date".

SpaceX will launch from Kennedy Space Center on board Falcon 9 rockets while Boeing will send its crew capsule up from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets.

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Astronauts, from left to right, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams.

By handing off crew and cargo runs to the space station - which will keep orbiting until at least 2024 - NASA has set its sight on the moon and Mars, developing the Orion capsule and the massive Space Launch System rocket.

The astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon acknowledge the media upon introduction at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., August 3, 2018. American astronauts will be flying American built rockets into space from American soil.

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Boeing's first Starliner crew will include a former NASA astronaut who commanded the last shuttle flight in 2011, Chris Ferguson, who is now a Boeing employee. Just as in the past, all human launches will originate here on the space coast. "We had our quarterly [review] this week, and for the first time in years, it felt real". John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's Commercial Crew effort, explained that the earliest the company can "confidently" do a manned flight test will be in mid-2019.

NASA made an announcement that is out of this world. Between the end of the space shuttle program and the start of commercial crew operations, Nasa's crew members have and are continuing to launch to the space station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The two companies have also developed new spacesuits, modified their launch pads and established mission control teams to support the upcoming flights. NASA had originally expected the companies to have their spacecraft ready for missions to the International Space Station by the end of previous year, but neither were able to meet that target. And it's now apparent that SpaceX is slightly ahead-it will conduct a crewed test flight in April of next year, while Boeing's crewed test is only scheduled for "mid-2019". Boeing's and SpaceX's commercial spacecraft may also open the space station - and more broadly, Earth orbit - to more privately-funded visitors and spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft and rockets.

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