Astronauts picked for SpaceX, Boeing capsule test flights

08 August, 2018, 21:35 | Author: Kristi Owen
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NASA has named nine US astronauts who will fly aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the first crewed flight test and mission to the International Space Station.

Boeing Starliner's flight will be known as the Orbital Flight Test, and it will depart atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The coming launches will be the first from American soil since the Space Shuttle's 2011 retirement, according to a NASA news release.

For the past seven years, Nasa astronauts have hitched rides to the orbiting outpost on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft - at a cost of some US$80 million a seat.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the news, and tweeted, " NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and SpaceX space flights.

NASA made the announcement today (Aug. 3) here at the Johnson Space Center, with the agency revealing the eight agency astronauts and one Boeing astronaut before a cheering crowd of lawmakers, dignitaries and kids waving signs and American flags. NASA picked Crew Dragon and Starliner to replace the space shuttle for ISS transportation back in 2014.

SpaceX's first crewed test flight on the Crew Dragon will be flown by astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in April 2019. Robert Behnken, a former Air Force colonel, will join former Marine Corps colonel Douglas Hurley on the Crew Dragon test flight. NASA worked closely with the companies to engineer both spacecraft.

In addition to naming the crews of the test flights, NASA also announced the four astronauts who will fly aboard the first operational Starliner and Dragon missions to the space station.

As Dragon prepares to carry humans for the first time, the spacecraft continues to make regular trips to the International Space Station carrying cargo under SpaceX's Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Her first was a space shuttle mission that launched in 2007, and the second was a Soyuz-launched mission in 2012. "I'll tell you, being able to launch to the International Space Station from US soil, I can't imagine better", Cassada said.


Glover, a father of four, was serving as a legislative fellow in the U.S. Senate when he joined NASA in 2013 - beating out a field of more than 6,100 applicants.

Williams has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station since becoming an astronaut in 1998.

Prior to their maiden crewed missions, both Boeing and SpaceX plan uncrewed test flights in late 2018 or early 2019. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by the middle of next year.

Victor Glover is from Pomona, California. The capsules, made by SpaceX and Boeing, will ferry the astronauts and cargo back and forth to the International Space Station.

Mike Hopkins: Hopkins was raised on a farm near Richland, Missouri, and he has a master's in aerospace engineering. Boe was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2000.

The first full mission of Boeing's Starliner, which will fly to the ISS for a long-duration stay, will take ISS veteran Suni Williams and spaceflight newcomer Josh Cassada.

Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's global partners at a later date.

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