Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

NASA announces new astronaut class

NASA announces new astronaut class

NASA has named the astronauts who will fly the first commercial capsules into orbit next year.

After each company successfully completes its crewed test flight, NASA will begin the final process of certifying that spacecraft and systems for regular crew missions to the space station.

Commercial space taxis offer an ostensibly cheaper, made-in-America option for NASA.

Leading up to the ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the agency: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil".

The astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon give a thumbs-up upon introduction at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, US, August 3, 2018.

Boeing's first Starliner crew will include a former NASA astronaut who commanded the last shuttle flight in 2011, Chris Ferguson, who's now a Boeing employee. He flew aboard three shuttle missions, including the program's final mission in 2011. However, at the announcement companies sounded more confident in those revised schedules.

The test flights and missions aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, slated for as early as April 2019, will "begin a new era in America spaceflight", the US space agency said. 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.

"I'm just really excited we're going to be able to take these spacecraft and show them off to our worldwide partners", Williams told the crowd.

United Launch Alliance is also involved in the forthcoming launch of NASA's Parker Solar Probe.

US President Donald Trump also praised the news while giving himself a pat on the back: "NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and Spacex space flights", he tweeted.

The space agency selected eight of its finest active astronauts, plus one retired astronaut, from a wide array of backgrounds. As a naval aviator, she flew combat missions during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom before becoming a naval test pilot.

SpaceX is shooting for a test flight without passengers in November and a crew flight in April.

The first flight is expected sometime next year. A rookie to spaceflight, Cassada was selected by NASA in 2013.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon that will be used for Demo-1 arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July. She has spent 322 days in orbit during two missions to the space station.

Glover, a father of four, was serving as a legislative fellow in the U.S. Senate when he joined NASA in 2013 - beating out a field of more than 6,100 applicants. He has spent 166 days on the International Space Station for Expeditions 37/38, and conducted two spacewalks.

NASA seems confident these dates will hold, and that the commercial crew program is finally on the home stretch.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is facilitating the development of a USA commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.

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