Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

NASA announces astronauts for SpaceX and Boeing launches from the US

NASA announces astronauts for SpaceX and Boeing launches from the US

The race to get astronauts to the space station first is real; a US flag that flew on the first space shuttle flight in 1981 and the last shuttle flight in 2011, awaits the victor. Now, we know the names of those launches' first passengers.

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.

"We are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during the "Launch America" announcement.

Taking the stage Friday before a huge American flag, Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, told the crews: "What a sacred honor this was to be part of this program and to fly you". In December, Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 to set the moon as NASA's next goal for astronauts.

Flying the first crewed flight on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner are NASA astronauts Eric Boe, Nicole Aunapu Mann and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson. He began his career at NASA in 2000 and piloted two space shuttle missions, one on Endeavor in 2009 and the final shuttle mission on Atlantis in 2011.

The new commercial capsules will replace NASA's space shuttle program, which last flew in 2011. Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to fly Crew Dragon for the first time in April 2019. "I'm just grateful to be able to usher in this new era of American spaceflight".

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.

Ferguson works as director of Crew and Mission Systems for Boeing - he's been dubbed the first "corporate astronaut".

However, there is still much work to be done before the nine and men women chosen to head to the International Space Station can safely embark on NASA's new ships. Thank you. We take it very seriously. The company's first mission, should the test be successful, will be flown by Victor Glover, at his first flight to space, and ISS veteran Michael Hopkins.

June 30, 2011-NASA's space shuttle has been an icon of the US space program for the past 30 years. Her first was a space shuttle mission that launched in 2007, and the second was a Soyuz-launched mission in 2012. A NASA press release says more crew members may be added to those flights later. Since her selection as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks. If all goes as planned, he could make history as the first private citizen to launch to orbit on a commercially operated space craft.

Top row, left to right: NASA Astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins; bottom row, left to right: NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Williams came to NASA from the Navy, where she was a test pilot and rose to the rank of captain before retiring. He's performed six spacewalks totaling almost 40 hours. He served more than 24 years in the US Marine Corps as a fighter pilot and a test pilot.

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