NASA Names Astronauts for Boeing and SpaceX Flights to International Space Station

Theresa Obrien
August 8, 2018

American astronaut Sunita Williams has been named among nine astronauts who will fly to the International Space Station on the first U.S-made commercial spacecraft.

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.

The missions will mark the first crewed launches from USA soil since the end of the space shuttle programme in 2011.

NASA's commercial crew program is part of the greater effort to commercialize the activities in low Earth orbit, utilizing the International Space Station (ISS), where NASA astronauts have been conducting science and research along with international space agency partners.

These US astronauts previously flew aboard Russian spacecraft to get to the ISS.

"This is important for our country, we want America to know that we are back, that we are flying American astronauts into U.S. capsules from American soil", said Jim Bridenstine, the agency's administrator. NASA has unveiled the first astronauts to fly on private spaceships built by SpaceX and Boeing, and, just like the original Mercury Seven, NASA's first astronauts announced in 1959, these 21st century space travelers have "the right stuff".

Ferguson isn't now a NASA employee, though he served as an astronaut from 1998 to 2011 and commanded the final Space Shuttle mission.

Behnken, Hurley, Boe and Sunita Williams have been training on SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner since July 2015. NASA says this was actually not a requirement for certifying the vehicles, but both companies opted to perform end-to-end flight tests to ensure the entire integrated system worked properly. Robert Behnken, Doug Hurley, Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson, and Nicole Aunapu Mann are expected to launch aboard SpaceX and Boeing-operated vehicles in 2019, providing uncrewed flight tests of both spacecraft go well first.

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The agency announced last week the first astronauts that will fly to the space station, as the first American astronauts onboard commercial spacecraft. Space X, the private space company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk put out Dragon as the first private aircraft to berth with the ISS.

When the Starliner approaches the International Space Station, the docking will be fully autonomous as the spacecraft manoeuvres toward an adapted docking port for commercial spacecraft.

Trump wasn't the only one heralding NASA's commercial crew announcement today. He was a test pilot and colonel in the Marine Corps before coming to NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut.

By handing off crew and cargo runs to the space station - which will keep orbiting until at least 2024 - NASA has set its sight on the moon and Mars, developing the Orion capsule and the massive Space Launch System rocket. He's performed six spacewalks totaling almost 40 hours. She is an F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours in more than 25 aircraft.

Victor Glover is from Pomona, California.

Mike Hopkins: Hopkins was raised on a farm near Richland, Missouri, and he has a master's in aerospace engineering. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009.

"With the additional access to space, new industries will develop in the years ahead at an increasing rate", said Lissy Donald, managing director of Compass International - a UAE-based firm that is the regional partner of Nasa and the U.S. and Space Rocket Centre.

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