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NASA Announces Flight Crews for Upcoming SpaceX and Boeing Missions

NASA Announces Flight Crews for Upcoming SpaceX and Boeing Missions

Not only will the manned test flights be the first time astronauts fly to the space station aboard commercial spacecraft, but they will also be the first launch of "American astronauts on American-made spacecraft from American soil" since NASA retired its space shuttle program in 2011, the space agency said.

Mr. Behnken, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Boe and Ms. Mann are NASA's first astronauts to be named to the test flights of new US spacecraft since the March 1978 announcement of the space shuttle's first orbital flight test crews. In a statement, the agency said that additional crew members for those first post-certification missions "will be assigned by NASA's global partners at a later date".

Nine astronauts were named to ride the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner capsules - five on the first crew flights and four on the second round of missions to the International Space Station.

In his statement to the media, director of NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston Mark Geyer said that the men and women we assign to these first flights are at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight.

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. He began his career at NASA in 2000 and piloted two space shuttle missions, one on Endeavor in 2009 and the final shuttle mission on Atlantis in 2011.

"I've been waiting for this day." said Sunita Williams, who was one of the four astronauts that has been working with both commercial partners for the last three years.

As part of forward skirt testing, the flight computers came to life for the first time as NASA engineers tested critical avionic systems that will control the rocket's flight. "I look forward, sir, to getting you down there at some point out in Hawthorne [SpaceX's California headquarters] and maybe you can sit next to us in the cockpit and go through flying the iPhone to dock to space station".

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were then presented as the astronauts who will be on board SpaceX's Crew Dragon demo mission 2 targeted to launch in April 2019.

The two pairs of NASA crewmates will fly to the station with Russian cosmonauts and worldwide astronauts to be announced at a later date.

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The Indian-origin astronaut, Williams, is named for the Boeing programme to the International Space Centre (ISS).

According to the NASA website, both the Boeing test flight and SpaceX test flight are expected to take place in 2019.

President Donald Trump fired off a celebratory tweet today to laud NASA's first astronaut crews to fly on private spacecraft built by Boeing and SpaceX, a message that also appeared to hail the president's proposed military Space Force.

The agency said more crew members will be announced later.

The Boeing and SpaceX crewed test missions are arguably the most anticipated spaceship test flights this century.

And astronauts will fly on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner sometime after that, in the middle of 2019. 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.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon will launch on the company's Falcon 9 rocket.

Earlier this year, NASA unveiled a commercial crew schedule that called for the first uncrewed test flights by SpaceX and Boeing this month.


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