NASA Taps Astronauts for Commercial Flights

NASA Taps Astronauts for Commercial Flights

NASA Taps Astronauts for Commercial Flights

Josh Cassada, a Navy commander and test pilot, and Sunita Williams, a retired Navy captain and test pilot, will fly the Boeing-built spacecraft for its initial crewed mission to the orbiting laboratory.

"I'm sure that there is at least one Russian language instructor out there who thinks that having me fly a US vehicle is not a awful idea", Cassada said. Public and private entities joining forces for these proto flights means the crewed test phase could be of the most monumental leaps in human spaceflight since NASA's Space Shuttle Program was retired in 2011.

Trump's Twitter praise for the astronauts did appear to gloss over the fact that NASA is actually paying SpaceX and Boeing to fly American astronauts.

Veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly on SpaceX's first crewed Crew Dragon flight.

This will be the first space shuttle launches from the USA since it retired its space shuttle in 2011.

The eight active NASA astronauts and one former astronaut-turned-corporate crew member will launch on Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Dragoncapsules to the International Space Station beginning in 2019. NPR reports that some critics think the SLS is too expensive compared to industry developments like SpaceX's Falcon Heavy. NASA says this was actually not a requirement for certifying the vehicles, but both companies opted to perform end-to-end flight tests to ensure the entire integrated system worked properly. Mann will also make history as the first female astronaut on the inaugural crewed flight of a new US spacecraft. 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. This will be Ms. Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013. This will be her first trip to space.

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"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". Ferguson, the Boeing astronaut, flew three shuttle missions, and has logged more than 40 days in space.

For SpaceX's first flight to the ISS, the NASA crew will be Victor Glover on his first space flight and Mike Hopkins, who spent 166 days in space as part of Expedition 37/38.

"Because of the hard work of the folks that are here, and so many others, and an administration that is absolutely committed to space exploration, the health of NASA and our space exploration program is as strong as its ever been and it's getting stronger every day." said Bridenstine. Boeing's spacecraft CST-100 Starliner is also expected to be reusable and will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The firm has come a long way from first announcing its Crew Dragon ship a mere month ago.

NASA's deal with both SpaceX and Boeing is two-pronged as the agency would also like to hire both companies for future leisure and business travel services to space. Success in these missions means that the Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft could start regular servicing missions to the ISS. Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to fly Crew Dragon for the first time in April 2019.

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