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NASA names astronauts for Boeing, SpaceX flights

08 August 2018
NASA names astronauts for Boeing, SpaceX flights

Bridenstine also introduced the crews of the first missions to the International Space Station by each new craft, which will follow the test flights.

"This is important for our country, we want America to know that we are back, that we are flying American astronauts into U.S. capsules from American soil", said Jim Bridenstine, the agency's administrator. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space". NASA says this was actually not a requirement for certifying the vehicles, but both companies opted to perform end-to-end flight tests to ensure the entire integrated system worked properly.

"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 has named the astronauts chosen to fly on commercial spacecraft made by Boeing and SpaceX to and from the International Space Station, the research laboratory that orbits around Earth.

NASA is not yet certain exactly when the launches will be. It'll be his first spaceflight, though he has a wide range of experience with combat missions and testing aircraft. The spacecraft will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before flying their crew back to Earth.

SpaceX's first crewed test flight on the Crew Dragon will be flown by astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in April 2019. "But in a few years, the flight rates and opportunities for other nationals to fly to space will greatly increase".

The crew for the test flight of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner will be NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann flying with Boeing employee and former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson. Boeing's Ferguson was pilot on STS-116 on board Space Shuttle Atlantis as well as commander of STS-126 on Space Shuttle Endeavour and the final flight of the space shuttle program, STS-135 on board Atlantis. Space X, the private space company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk put out Dragon as the first private aircraft to berth with the ISS.

SpaceX and Boeing are planning a test flight of their capsules by the end of this year or early 2019. That is why in 2010 NASA started accepting proposals from commercial companies that were making astronaut transportation systems. SpaceX hopes to fly that test by this November, with Boeing targeting late 2019 or early 2020. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009.

Assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification missions will be revealed during an event that kicks off at 11 a.m. EDT at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Mann's flight with Boeing will be her first to space. She has spent 322 days in orbit during two missions to the space station.

"Both contractors have said that their schedules are aggressive and they set ambitious-rather than realistic-dates, only to frequently delay them", says Cristina Chaplain, the GAO director who provides oversight for NASA, including the Commercial Crew program.

The program's core goals are to get an American-made ships able reach the International Space Station (ISS), plus reduce or eliminate United States reliance on Russia's ever-more-expensive Soyuz spaceships to get there.