NASA released new schedules Aug. 2 for test flights by Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Credit Boeing SpaceX
Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander, is Boeing's director of crew and mission systems.
"This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know we're back", Bridenstine said in a speech. "This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said of the selections.
"To work and live in space is just a humbling and unbelievable blessing in and of itself, and now to have the opportunity to work with these great companies on something that is so important to our nation and to NASA", Glover said.
After the Starliner goes for its test flight, Williams will be one of two crew members who ride it for its first mission to the International Space Station, according to NASA. Among the three astronauts selected for Boeing's Starliner test flight is Nicole Aunapu Mann - a California native whose grandfather, Helmuth Aunapu, emigrated to the U.S. from Estonia just before the Second World War. NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, an experienced spacewalker who flew on two shuttle missions, will strap into the Crew Dragon alongside former shuttle pilot Doug Hurley.
Their voyages are scheduled to begin next year, and they would be the first American astronauts to launch from US soil since 2011.
NASA has been collaborating with commercial space companies for years, with the goal of having the private sector take over "routine" trips to the space station and low Earth orbit.
"It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the International Space Station", Mr. Geyer said.
NASA also revealed that the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft "packed with science and hardware" will return to Earth on Friday from the International Space Station. Therefore, it's essential that Crew Dragon and Starliner be ready for operational flights by the 2020 deadline. Boe was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2000. Williams has already spent more than 300 days in space.
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. It now looks like SpaceX will be the first to launch humans on its crew Dragon spacecraft, set for April 2019.
The Government Accountability Office said in a recent report that Boeing's spacecraft could "tumble" in some abort scenarios, which "could pose a threat to the crew's safety". Mr. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014.
Earlier this year, NASA unveiled a commercial crew schedule that called for the first uncrewed test flights by SpaceX and Boeing this month.
The nine astronauts - seven men and two women - waved and pumped their fists into the air as they appeared on stage to cheers from the crowd. "We're not going to let you down".
United States astronauts now ride on Russian capsules to the space station, with NASA paying as much as $82 million a seat.
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