Meet NASA's New Astronauts Flying SpaceX And Boeing Ships to Space

06 August, 2018, 14:29 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • First flights for Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules are delayed again

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.

Assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification missions will be revealed during an event that kicks off at 11 a.m. EDT at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The astronauts will be the first Americans to launch into orbit from US soil since NASA's space shuttle program shut down in 2011.

Victor Glover, 42, and Michael Hopkins, 49, will launch on the premier operational mission of SpaceX's crewed Dragon.

NASA announced the nine astronauts that will fly on the first crewed flights of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft during a ceremony here at the agency's Johnson Space Center.

He will be joined by Eric Boe, who flew on two shuttle missions and was another astronaut selected for commercial crew training in 2015, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, a member of the astronaut class of 2013 who will be making her first flight.

The test flights and missions aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, slated for as early as April 2019, will "begin a new era in America spaceflight", the USA space agency said. The test launch will be her first trip to space.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended NASA pursue a backup plan for getting astronauts to the ISS, as its contract with Russian Federation to send them to the station via Soyuz launches in Kazakhstan ends at the end of 2019.

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Also onboard will be Douglas Hurley, a former Marine Corps test pilot and colonel who joined NASA in 2000. As the other astronauts donned NASA patches on their blue jumpsuits, Ferguson wore a Boeing applique.

The Boeing Starliner test flight will see the craft launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida.

Boeing has since identified the problem, he said, and is working to fix it. "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.

Over the past several years, NASA has pushed the private sector to maintain a presence in low-Earth orbit.

Glover joined the astronaut corps in 2013; he is a U.S. Navy commander and test pilot with nearly 3,000 flight hours logged in more than 40 different aircraft. Ferguson is the only non-NASA astronaut. Ferguson will become the first former NASA astronaut to return to orbit as a company's crew member when he flies. "After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions", said a NASA blog. On one side, Boeing showed off its spacesuit, a handsome blue uniform, next to SpaceX's sleek black-and-white suit. "We won't let you down".

NASA is expected to announce the crew assignments for the first missions for Boeing and SpaceX this morning, according to a release from the agency.

"Thanks to the American public for your patience [and] your dedication for allowing us to finish the job", said Shotwell.

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