NASA announces crew who will fly first commercial rockets into space

NASA announces crew who will fly first commercial rockets into space

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

The first USA astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, waving after being announced, (left to right) Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Suni Williamson at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on August 3.

The crews would fly on spacecraft developed not by NASA, but by two corporations, SpaceX and Boeing, which are under contract to provide a taxi-like service to the International Space Station.

Astronauts are expected to make their first flight aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner in mid-2019, following a test flight without a crew in late 2018 or early 2019.

The new spaceflight capability provided by Boeing and SpaceX will allow NASA to maintain a crew of seven astronauts on the space station, thereby maximizing scientific research that leads to breakthroughs and also aids in understanding and mitigating the challenges of long-duration spaceflight.

The first test flight for SpaceX and Boeing will be known as Demo-1 and Orbital Flight Test, respectively.

The test flight astronauts on the Crew Dragon, both of whom joined NASA in 2000, will be Col.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended NASA pursue a backup plan for getting astronauts to the ISS, as its contract with Russian Federation to send them to the station via Soyuz launches in Kazakhstan ends at the end of 2019.

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Bob Behnken, who was a mission specialist on two separate shuttle flights, expressed a deep respect for the old spacecraft.

On Boeing's first post-certification mission, NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who has flown on the space station two times already, will fly to the outpost again with first-time space flier Josh Cassada. NASA had originally expected the companies to have their spacecraft ready for missions to the International Space Station by the end of a year ago, but neither were able to meet that target. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by the middle of next year.

The crew assignments came a day after NASA issued new schedules for the uncrewed and crewed test flights, pushing back the flights by several months from earlier schedules.

She was the first person to run a marathon in space, cranking out the miles on a treadmill in the space station while the Boston Marathon was being run on Earth in April 2007. The astronauts are (L to R): Victor Glover, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins, Douglas Hurley, Eric Boe, Sunita Williams, Christopher Ferguson, Josh Cassada, and Nicole Mann.

Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot.

Both companies will also conduct abort system test flights to ensure the astronauts can safely escape should their rockets go awry.

SpaceX will launch from Kennedy Space Center on board Falcon 9 rockets while Boeing will send its crew capsule up from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets. On Friday, the space agency introduced the nine-member team tasked with making the first flights. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014.

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