NASA names astronauts for first commercial space flights

NASA will name 1st astronauts to fly commercial spacecraft to International Space Station

SpaceX Will Fly Astronauts Before Boeing: NASA

He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space.

On Friday, NASA announced the astronauts that will fly on the first flights of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's crewed Dragon capsule. "Both partners said they really wanted to have an uncrewed flight test to make sure the integrated rockets, spacecraft and re-entry systems are all working as created to be able to ensure the integrated system is functioning".

From left to right: Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, and Chris Ferguson.

All nine have military experience in Navy, Air Force, or Marines. The missions will likely include veterans from the US' Space Shuttle program, Gizmodo reported.

Christopher Ferguson is a native of Philadelphia.

Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams is among the nine astronauts named by NASA on Friday for its first human spaceflight programme from the United States soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011. Both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon will need to meet stringent safety requirements and prove they are fit for regular flights.

Nicole Aunapu Mann: Mann was born in California and is a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps. NASA now has a contract to use the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that expires on November 2019, and the agency plans to use Boeing or SpaceX to fill the gap.

Even before the end of the shuttle program, NASA got to work to find a replacement. This will be her first trip to space.

Bob Behnken: Behnken is a native of St. Ann, Missouri.

Team Boeing consists of retired Air Force Col. Among them are the commander and pilot of the final shuttle mission in 2011.

Douglas Hurley calls Apalachin, New York, his hometown. Boeing, meanwhile, hopes to launch its first uncrewed test flight in late 2018 or early 2019, with the first crewed launch expected in mid-2019. He has flown to space twice before this, both on space shuttle missions. If all goes as planned, he could make history as the first private citizen to launch to orbit on a commercially operated space craft.

Assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification missions will be revealed during an event that kicks off at 11 a.m. EDT at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. After that, the companies will move on to actual long-duration missions.

Josh Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. He also serves as a Navy commander, naval aviator and was a test pilot.

Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot. This will be his first spaceflight.

Suni Williams: Williams grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. She came to NASA from the US navy, where she was a test pilot and retired from the rank of captain.

A recent mission abort by Boeing resulted from leaking engine fuel, and U.S. astronauts have until now taken Russian Federation capsules to the space station - at a cost of up to $82m for a seat. He is a Navy commander, aviator and test pilot with nearly 3,000 hours flying more than 40 different aircraft.

The Pasadena native accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flying time in more than 40 aircraft, with 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions.

Glover and Cassada are spaceflight rookies.

Eric Boe: Boe was born in Florida and grew up in Atlanta. Initially, the Space X and Boeing flights will be "test flights" and flights of crew and cargo to the International Space Station. She has spent 322 days in orbit during two missions to the space station. The spacecraft will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before flying their crew back to Earth.

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