NASA Taps Astronauts for Commercial Flights

1st Crewed Flights of Private Space Taxis Slip to 2019

It was back in September 2014 when NASA first announced that SpaceX and Boeing would fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space".

The Starliner crew will include former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson and Nicole Aunapu Mann, who is making her first trip to space, alongside Eric Boe, Sunita Williams and John Cassada. One requirement is for respective companies to pass both uncrewed and crewed flight tests.

Leading up to the ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the agency: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil". Since then, every nation on Earth has relied on Russian Federation to get to the International Space Station.

Eric Boe: Boe was born in Florida and grew up in Atlanta. He spent more than 40 days in space for NASA during three shuttle missions. Elon Musk's SpaceX was scheduled to conduct its first crewed test flights ahead of Boeing's. This will be Ms. Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013. It will be Mr. Glover's first time in space. "Exciting things happening. Space Force!"

Bob Behnken: Behnken is a native of St. Ann, Missouri. Boeing most recently suffered a problem while testing its emergency abort system and its first test flight won't be until at least mid-2019.

Doug Hurley: Hurley's hometown is Apalachin, New York. He has a master's degree in physics and is a US Navy test pilot who has served in more than 20 combat missions.

Four of the five astronauts named to the first Crew Dragon and Starliner flights are spaceflight veterans.

"The station is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight", a NASA news release said, "and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and missions deeper into the solar system, including Mars".

Josh Cassada: Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. This will be his first spaceflight.

Suni Williams: Williams grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. Williams came to NASA from the Navy, where she was a test pilot and rose to the rank of captain before retiring.

"The goal is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations", NASA said.

Victor Glover is from Pomona, California. As a naval aviator, she flew combat missions during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom before becoming a naval test pilot.

The Pasadena native accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flying time in more than 40 aircraft, with 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions.

Michael Hopkins was born in Lebanon, Missouri, and grew up on a farm near Richland, Missouri.

In addition to unveiling the test launch rosters, Bridenstine also revealed the crews of each spacecraft's second flight, which will ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

NASA says commercial transportation to and from the space stations will enable expanded station use, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory.

"Commercial space flights will greatly expand the space industry as a whole".

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