NASA announces astronauts for first commercial spaceflights from U.S.


NASA announces astronauts for first commercial spaceflights from U.S.

Pablo Tucker
August 4, 2018

In a statement released Thursday, NASA and its Commercial Crew partners revealed more details of the effort to carry astronauts from the U.S.to the International Space Station.

"As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this", said astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann, a Naval aviator who will make her first trip into space on the first Starliner crew.

NASA said the spacecraft returned to Earth with more than 3,800 pounds (more than 1,700 kilograms) of cargo, including specimens from biological experiments conducted on-board the space station. "It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the International Space Station".

The aviation companies will be conducting test flights at the end of this year and next, and astronauts will leave for the global space station Cape Canaveral in Florida next spring or summer.


NASA's new administrator Jim Bridenstine will announce which astronauts will be on which spaceship Friday morning in Houston. Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander, is Boeing's director of crew and mission systems. The first Crew Dragon post-certification mission will be flown by Victor Glover, another rookie astronaut selected in 2013, and Mike Hopkins, who spent 166 days on one station mission. That is why in 2010 NASA started accepting proposals from commercial companies that were making astronaut transportation systems. He joined the astronaut corps in 2000 and flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour twice, for the STS-123 and STS-130 missions, during which he performed six spacewalks totaling more than 37 hours.

Sunita Williams, a veteran astronaut with roots in Needham, is going back into space. Since then, NASA has been forced to rely exclusively on Russia's increasingly expensive Soyuz spaceships to get to the International Space Station (ISS), in which the USA government has invested about $100 billion.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's announcement signals a milestone in the US space program, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. It will be Cassada's first spaceflight.

"NASA is continuing to assess multiple scenarios to ensure continued US access to the International Space Station", the space agency told Bloomberg.


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. It now looks like SpaceX will be the first to launch humans on its crew Dragon spacecraft, set for April 2019. Similarly, the first Starliner is being now being outfitted for launch at Kennedy Space Center, and the test flight's Atlas V Centaur upper stage-never flown in the dual-engine configuration-ships to Florida in August. (BA) to the punch when it comes to flying astronauts to the International Space Station.

SpaceX, however, did move up the uncrewed test flight of its Dragon spacecraft from December to November of this year.

A commercial Dragon cargo craft launched June 29 departed the International Space Station and returned to Earth on Friday with almost two tons of cargo and research samples.


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