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NASA Announces Crew For First Commercial Space Flights

04 August 2018
NASA Announces Crew For First Commercial Space Flights

NASA introduced to the world on Friday the first USA astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station.

Since NASA retired its space shuttles, the agency has had to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its crews to the International Space Station.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know we're back".

On Friday, the space agency plans to announce crews for the first flights of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner.

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.

The commander on the historic last shuttle mission, Chris Ferguson, is now a Boeing employee and has been heavily involved in developing the company's CST-100 Starliner capsule. He made the introductions in a crowded auditorium at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Hopkins had previously spent 166 days on the International Space Station, and conducted two spacewalks.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's announcement signals a milestone in the USA space program, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.

The timetable for the launches was supposed to have been for test flights to take place before the end of 2018, but both companies have faced technical issues that may delay that into 2019.

Of the nine astronauts tapped to serve as crew members, all but three are space flight veterans. "So, our investment in American space exploration always pays back ... multiple folds in terms of the human condition", he added.

The test flight astronauts on the Crew Dragon, both of whom joined NASA in 2000, will be Col. However, a NASA spokesman said that does not guarantee those four astronauts will be assigned to an actual mission.

After years of vehicle development and building anticipation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has now put the crew in commercial crew spacecraft. Nicole Aunapu Mann will be making her first flight; she completed her astronaut training in 2015. Therefore, it's essential that Crew Dragon and Starliner be ready for operational flights by the 2020 deadline.

SpaceX later confirmed a successful splashdown, concluding the company's 15th resupply mission to the space station under the space transport company's more than $3 billion, 20-launch cargo contract with NASA. I've watched people and teams come together these last few years, and now we're getting close to space flight.

During the manned tests, the astronauts will be able to use the displays inside the spacecraft, communicate with mission control and practise manual controls during flight.

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. She has logged 322 days in space. The launch window for the mission opens at 3:48 a.m EDT on August 11, 2018.