NASA reveals crews for first flights of commercial spaceships

James Marshall
August 4, 2018

In a statement, the agency said that additional crew members for those first post-certification missions "will be assigned by NASA's worldwide partners at a later date".

NASA named nine astronauts who will be on the first space flights launched from United States soil since the shuttle program ended in 2011. Both Boeing and SpaceX have issues to work out before they can complete their first crewed flights; the 2019 dates are targets and may be optimistic ones at that. Ferguson is the only non-NASA astronaut.

However, a NASA spokesman said that does not guarantee those four astronauts will be assigned to an actual mission. Boeing said it would be ready sometime in the middle of 2019.

Mr. Ferguson, who has been involved from the start in the Starliner's development, flew three shuttle missions as a NASA astronaut. Mr. Boe piloted two shuttle flights.

NASA officials have said it is critical to understanding the challenges of long-duration spaceflight and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and for deep-space missions, including to Mars. Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams will crew the Starliner's first mission, while Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly aboard the Crew Dragon first mission. This will be her first trip to space.

He logged more than 40 days in space.

US President Donald Trump also praised the news while giving himself a pat on the back: "NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and Spacex space flights", he tweeted.

The return of crew flights to US soil will end NASA's politically inconvenient reliance on Russian Federation for transporting astronauts to the ISS.

The first flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon is expected in April 2019, following an unmanned test in November, NASA said.

On the right, NASA astronauts conduct a fully-suited exercise in Boeing's CST-100 Starliner mock-up trainer in early May at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

On Friday, NASA announced the astronauts that will fly on the first flights of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's crewed Dragon capsule. This will be Ms. Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013.

Several of the selected astronauts are shuttle program veterans.

Since 2011, the United States has relied on Russian Federation to ferry astronauts to the space station.

"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a statement. And now, each new SpaceX launch becomes a media sensation -- while NASA's public profile is fading. Mr. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014. "I look forward, sir, to getting you down there at some point out in Hawthorne [SpaceX's California headquarters] and maybe you can sit next to us in the cockpit and go through flying the iPhone to dock to space station".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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