In a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA announced who would fly on the crewed test flights planned for next year of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, as well as the first post-certification, or operational, missions by each vehicle. It will be fun and adventurous to see the astronauts take off from American soil and worth a wait to see them aboard the International Space Station. Initially, all four crew members trained on both vehicles, but with flights just a year away, NASA is now assigning the crew to specific missions.
The missions will mark the first crewed launches from USA soil since the end of the space shuttle programme in 2011. - Alan Shepard, John Young are some of America's first explorers into the great unknown, but Friday NASA will announce who will be America's next space pioneers.
The crews would fly on spacecraft developed not by NASA, but by two corporations, SpaceX and Boeing, which are under contract to provide a taxi-like service to the International Space Station. Since her selection as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks.
"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil".
"And that's going to help all of us understand a little bit more about how we live and work in space and further on for our next program Orion and SLS", Williams said.
SpaceX's first crew will include naval aviator Victor Glover, also a novice to spaceflight, and shuttle veteran Michael Hopkins.
NASA and the Obama administration chose to rely on the private sector to transport crew and materials to the space station. Boeing astronaut, and retired NASA astronaut, Chris Ferguson joins the eight commercial crew astronauts as the first citizen astronaut.
SpaceX's four-member crew consists of Air Force flight test engineer Bob Behnken and retired Marine Corps test pilot Doug Hurley, tasked with the Dragon's demo flight scheduled for April 2019; Dragon's first mission will be flown by Navy test pilot Victor Glover and the Air Force's Mike Hopkins.
Boeing's Starliner will soar on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets.
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"As a test pilot it doesn't get any better than this", Mann told the audience, when asked about being the first to fly a new spacecraft. They we will crew the first test flights, and then missions involving both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX'sCrew Dragon.
Earlier this year, NASA unveiled a commercial crew schedule that called for the first uncrewed test flights by SpaceX and Boeing this month.
One of those is SpaceX, Elon Musk's company, which will launch Crew Dragon, while the other is Boeing's Starliner project. He has logged more than 40 days in space across three space shuttle missions. "I'll tell you, being able to launch to the International Space Station from USA soil, I can't imagine better", Cassada said.
"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", said Benji Reed, SpaceX Director of Crew Mission Management.
The US space agency, meanwhile, is working on building rockets and spacecraft that could allow humans to return to the Moon in the coming decade.
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