Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Science | By

Sunita Williams among 9 astronauts relaunching US space travel

Sunita Williams among 9 astronauts relaunching US space travel

On the test flight for the Starliner will be: Eric Boe, a former space shuttle pilot who retired from the Air Force; Christopher Ferguson, a Boeing astronaut who left NASA in 2011; and Lt. Col. Nicole Mann of the Marine Corps.

More astronaut crew members will be assigned to flight missions in the future, and both mission crews expressed the importance of adding them as soon as possible in order to reduce training challenges for both the crew and training teams.

Leading up to the a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the space agency, saying: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil".

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. He is a retired Navy captain, who piloted space shuttle Atlantis for STS-115, and commanded shuttle Endeavour on STS-126 and Atlantis for the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program, STS-135. As the other astronauts donned NASA patches on their blue jumpsuits, Ferguson wore a Boeing applique. This will be Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013.

The vessels, the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner, have been developed with billions of dollars in funding from NASA, which has contracted SpaceX and Northrop Grumman to make cargo deliveries to the space station since 2012. "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". The first mission astronauts for SpaceX Crew Dragon include astronaut Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew. This programme is a part of the NASA's Commercial Crew programme to send humans to the ISS (International Space Centre) on private U.S. 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.

Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, who has spent more than 160 days in space, were selected to crew SpaceX's first full mission.

In 2014, NASA signed contracts with Boeing Co. and SpaceX to develop spacecraft and rocket systems to launch from the United States. "Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts", explained NASA in the statement. Ferguson will become the first former NASA astronaut to return to orbit as a company's crew member when he flies.

SpaceX and Boeing are planning a test flight of their capsules by the end of this year or early 2019. All but three of the astronauts are space flight veterans.

NASA introduces the astronauts assigned to the first flights of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are also working with Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas company that plans to launch private space stations into orbit, to be leased to nations or companies. It will ride atop a Falcon-9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.

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