NASA has tapped nine astronauts to become the first to launch into space from American soil since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011.
NASA's Commercial Crew Program, as it's called, will soon launch launch one uncrewed and two crewed test flights of each new spacecraft.
"This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know we're back".
On the first human test flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, NASA selected astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Mann to join Boeing executive Chris Ferguson. Nicole Aunapu Mann will be making her first flight; she completed her astronaut training in 2015. American astronauts will be flying American built rockets into space from American soil.
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Bob Behnken: Behnken was chosen as an astronaut in 2000 and has been to space twice on two shuttle missions. He is the last person to serve as a commander for the NASA space shuttle program.
Nasa astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, will fly together as SpaceX's first Dragon crew. NASA has been paying Russian Federation for flights launched from remote Kazakhstan to the ISS ever since, banking on its Commercial Crew Program to develop a cheaper, reliable and safe American-based alternative. Boeing said earlier this week it would carry out a test flight of the Starliner vehicle without humans later this year or in early 2019, after it suffered an issue with the capsule's launch abort system during a test in New Mexico in June, according to SpaceNews. That flight is now projected to lift off in April of 2019. NASA is working with Space X and Boeing to develop the spacecraft.
The first crewed test flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule will include NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
As for being the only non-NASA guy on board, Ferguson explained later during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" program that Boeing always uses company test pilots for first flights "and the Starliner is no exception".
The agency said more crew members will be announced later. 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 U.S. government has invested about $100 billion.
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After a almost decadelong hiatus, NASA plans to once again start launching piloted spacecraft from American soil, this time aboard two commercially developed vehicles, beginning in early to mid-2019.
NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's announcement signals a milestone in the USA space program, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.
Boeing's Starliner will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It will be Cassada's first spaceflight.
The first SpaceX mission to the ISS will be manned by Victor Glover, another newbie, and Mike Hopkins, who has already spent 166 days on the sky-high lab during two tours of duty.
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The contracts for travel to the International Space Station were awarded in 2014. "To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station".