Meet the first astronauts to fly the new SpaceX and Boeing spaceships

Boeing Starliner

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. Suni Williams, who is best known for running the Boston Marathon on an ISS treadmill, will be joined by rookie astronaut Josh Cassada. SpaceX is targeting November for its inaugural Crew Dragon test flight, but Boeing won't launch its passenger spacecraft Starliner until late this year or early next.

NASA has always been working on developing its commercial crew programme while it can focus on its space exploration projects, the report added.

He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space.

Trump's statement that NASA is making a "BIG comeback" under his administration could be referring to the three Space Policy Directives Trump has issued over the last six months. He flew on a Space Shuttle Endeavour mission in 2008 and a Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 2011.

A recent mission abort by Boeing resulted from leaking engine fuel, and United States astronauts have until now taken Russian Federation capsules to the space station - at a cost of up to $82m for a seat.

NASA announced the nine astronauts that will fly on the first crewed flights of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft during a ceremony here at the agency's Johnson Space Center. "To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station". Boeing and Space Adventures, the USA company that arranged space tourist flights on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, have a partnership that could allow paying passengers to ride in a fifth seat on CST-100 missions for shorter-duration missions.


If those flights are successful, the companies will be certified by NASA for crew rotation missions. These missions mostly include veterans from the Space Shuttle program, though it will be Aunapu Mann and Cassada's first trips to space. Eric Boe, retired Navy Capt.

Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, who has spent more than 160 days in space, were selected to crew SpaceX's first full mission. Also onboard will be Air Force colonel Michael Hopkins, selected to be a NASA astronaut in 2009, and who has already spent 166 days on the International Space Station for Expeditions 37/38, along with conducting two spacewalks.

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, " said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who introduced the astronauts at Johnson Space Center in Houston in Friday. He is a Navy commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft.

Boeing's and SpaceX's commercial spacecraft may also open the space station - and more broadly, Earth orbit - to more privately-funded visitors and spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft and rockets.

Ferguson, a 56-year-old graduate of Archbishop Ryan High School and Drexel University, may get his shot to be first next year. He is a Navy commander, aviator and test pilot with nearly 3,000 hours flying more than 40 different aircraft.

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