Published: Fri, August 03, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

NASA announces astronauts for first Commercial Crew missions

NASA announces astronauts for first Commercial Crew missions

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL - JUNE 19: Chris Ferguson, Boeing director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems and former NASA astronaut, along with NASA astronaut Suni Williams, practice the emergency egress system training from the Crew access tower at Launch Complex 41 at Kennedy Space Center. Crew members have worked years with companies to get here and they said they can not wait for the flights to begin next year.

NASA announced on Friday the astronauts who will crew the Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft, the first time Americans will return to space in hopes of reaching the International Space Station from Florida's Space Coast since 2011. Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's global partners in the space station at a later date, the agency said.

The SpaceX crewed test flight, now scheduled for April 2019, will be flown by NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

"Space has transformed the American way of life", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during the event.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.

NASA has named nine astronauts to crew the first test flights and missions of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.

SpaceX and Boeing built new spaceships for NASA to fly its astronauts into orbit.


NASA awaits the completion of both companies' test flights before certifying either safe for use to return astronauts on low-Earth-orbit missions.

The announcement is a big deal because the last American crew-carrying spacecraft - NASA's fleet of four space shuttle orbiters - retired in July 2011.

Prior to their maiden crewed missions, both Boeing and SpaceX plan uncrewed test flights in late 2018 or early 2019. A recent abort test by Boeing resulted in leaking engine fuel.

If those flights are successful, the companies will be certified by NASA for crew rotation missions. 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.

The two pairs of Nasa crewmates will fly to the station with Russian cosmonauts and worldwide astronauts to be announced at a later date.

Astronaut Doug Hurley, who will be on the first crew of the SpaceX Dragon, hinted at the delays when he noted, "The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot, and you don't think it's ever going to happen to you".

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. What is not known is who gets to fly on which company's spacecraft, and on which flight they get to launch. With the start of four-person commercial missions, the International Space Station crew is slated to grow by one to a seven-person residency in order to maximize the science that can be conducted on board.

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