Published: Fri, August 03, 2018
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NASA announces astronauts for first Commercial Crew missions

NASA announces astronauts for first Commercial Crew missions

Crewed test flights will likely occur next spring, with Chris Ferguson, a Boeing vice president who was the commander of the last shuttle mission, Eric Boe, a former shuttle pilot, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, a former Navy pilot who will be making her first space flight, onboard the Boeing CST-100 Starliner.

The astronauts named on Friday will be carried aloft aboard spacecraft developed by entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing Co, crewing first the test flights, and then missions involving both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

When NASA selected these four astronauts to train for commercial crew vehicles, they expressed their excitement for the future of manned flight.

Since the space shuttle program was shut down, the USA space agency NASA has had to rely on Russian Federation to fly astronauts to space station, a $100 billion orbital research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth. All have a military background. With the start of four-person commercial missions, the International Space Station crew is slated to grow by one to a seven-person residency in order to maximize the science that can be conducted on board.

Last week, Boeing confirmed that it had a problem with its launch abort system, which is created to ferry crews to safety in the event of an emergency.

When test flights do launch, Boeing's flight is dubbed Orbital Flight Test followed by Crew Flight Test. SpaceX's first flight is dubbed Demonstration Mission 1 followed by Demonstration Mission 2.


"Oh, it better", Bridenstine chimed in. Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly with SpaceX.

Boeing's Starliners will soar on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets. "Falcon 9's first and second stages for the Demo-1 mission are targeted to ship from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California to the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas for additional testing in August", NASA said. "For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil". "We're returning to a full-capability ascent abort system to keep astronauts safe all the way through the profile, and that's something that the shuttle didn't have". The group likened it to flying an iPhone, with a minimal number of switches compared with the 3,000 switches in the old shuttle cockpit.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program, as it's called, will soon launch launch one uncrewed and two crewed test flights of each new spacecraft.

The timetable for the launches was supposed to have been for test flights to take place before the end of 2018, but both companies have faced technical issues that may delay that into 2019. According to Bloomberg, NASA will name the astronauts that will fly on the tests on Friday.

It may also include Russia, as NASA officials have discussed in the past flying Russian cosmonauts on commercial crew vehicles, possibly in exchange for seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Just as in the past, all human launches will originate here on the space coast.

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