NASA Announces First Crew for Commercial Space Travel

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NASA Announces First Crew for Commercial Space Travel

An astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams is among the nine.

The three pioneers will help restore American access to space from US soil, a capability that ended when the shuttle was retired seven years ago.

The aviation companies will be conducting test flights at the end of this year and next, and astronauts will leave for the global space station Cape Canaveral in Florida next spring or summer.

Ferguson will fly with NASA astronauts Eric Boe, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, and Nicole Aunapu Mann on the first crewed test flight of Starliner, which is now projected to take place in mid-2019.

NASA seems confident these dates will hold, and that the commercial crew program is finally on the home stretch.

For SpaceX, the Crew Dragon test flight astronauts are spaceflight veterans, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley. That flight is now projected to lift off in April of 2019. As a naval aviator, she flew combat missions during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom before becoming a naval test pilot.

NASA said SpaceX was now aiming to conduct an uncrewed demonstration flight of its upgraded Dragon capsule in November, known as SpaceX Demo-1. "But you know, it looks like it might". "A small investment from the American taxpayer has paid dividends to the point now where space has transformed the lives of not only every American, but every person on the face of the planet in so many ways that people usually don't even recognize it". The first Crew Dragon post-certification mission will be flown by Victor Glover, another rookie astronaut selected in 2013, and Mike Hopkins, who spent 166 days on one station mission. Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly with SpaceX.

It's been a long trip for these astronauts.

To move beyond reliance on Russian transport, NASA tapped Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 to craft a sequel of sorts to the Space Shuttle: private, Apollo-style "space taxis" built and launched in the United States.

In an interview, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine compared the crews to the Mercury astronauts, the seven test pilots featured in "The Right Stuff", who flew at the dawn of the Space Age.

Trump's Twitter praise for the astronauts did appear to gloss over the fact that NASA is actually paying SpaceX and Boeing to fly American astronauts. Those were Behnken, Boe, Hurley and Williams.

Boeing's Starliner mission will include Chris Ferguson, a Boeing astronaut who, while previously working for NASA, served as commander of two NASA flights.

The move marks a significant shift in the USA space program, which will now combine NASA-trained astronauts with private sector space capsules.

"I'm just really excited we're going to be able to take these spacecraft and show them off to our worldwide partners", Williams told the crowd. She was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2013.

Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing's defense, space and security business, said in a statement published Friday the company is proud to have Ferguson as part of the first Starliner crew. Both vehicles are reusable. NASA now expects the initial manned test of the Starliner to happen in mid-2019. Boeing's uncrewed test flight will slip to the end of 2018, and its crewed test will launch in mid-2019.

Those launch targets may change. But that changed Thursday (Aug. 2) when NASA rolled out a set of new launch targets. He is a Navy commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft.

Commercial space taxis offer an ostensibly cheaper, made-in-America option for NASA.

"If neither Boeing nor SpaceX are ready to fly by November 2019, the US risks a gap in access to the ISS", says Chaplain.

There's no guarantee that either SpaceX or Boeing will stick to the schedule announced today. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, she said, founded the company in 2002 to build the safest and most reliable spacecraft possible. "We take it seriously. We won't let you down".

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