NASA is naming 8 astronauts to fly SpaceX and Boeing's new spaceships

NASA introduces the astronauts assigned to the first flights of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.

NASA on Friday is scheduled to announce the crews of the first flights to fly from United States soil since the space shuttle retired in 2011, an elite group of astronauts that the agency hopes will help open a new era of space travel.

The crew of the Boeing Starliner's first test flight will be NASA astronaut Eric Boe, a retired Air Force colonel who flew on two space shuttle missions; Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, a former Navy captain and NASA astronaut who flew three shuttle missions, including the final mission in 2011; and NASA astronaut Nicole Mann who will make her first spaceflight after a career as a Marine corps lieutenant colonel, fighter pilot and test pilot. NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, an experienced spacewalker who flew on two shuttle missions, will strap into the Crew Dragon alongside former shuttle pilot Doug Hurley.

Since the shuttle was retired seven years ago, US astronauts have had to fly on Russian rockets from a remote launch site in Kazakhstan.

The successful flight marked the scheduled end of the 30-year space shuttle program.

The next class of NASA astronauts was announced Friday, and they will be the first to man space vehicles owned by commercial companies.

In this illustration, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking. The agency landed on the Commercial Crew program, which would see Boeing and SpaceX build new vehicles that could deliver astronauts to the space station.

The commercial crew members took to the stage during an event led by Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Boeing and Space Adventures, the USA company that arranged space tourist flights on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, have a partnership that could allow paying passengers to ride in a fifth seat on CST-100 missions for shorter-duration missions.

"It's absolutely an opportunity of a lifetime", said Mann, who was selected as an astronaut in 2013. He will be joined by veteran astronaut Suni Williams, who has spent more than 50 hours on spacewalks and ran the first marathon in space on board the ISS in 2007.

Astronauts, from left to right, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams.

NASA awaits the completion of both companies' test flights before certifying either safe for use to return astronauts on low-Earth-orbit missions. The uncrewed test is planned for November; the test flight with crew aboard is set for April 2019.

And it's not just about aesthetics - the astronauts will also be able to get more done during their limited time in space.

In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX were awarded a combined $6.8 billion in contracts from NASA to develop spacecraft capable of flying crews to the station, the orbiting laboratory.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched on one of the company's Falcon 9 rockets, while Boeing's Starliner will hitch a lift on United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5.

The Government Accountability Office said in a recent report that Boeing's spacecraft could "tumble" in some abort scenarios, which "could pose a threat to the crew's safety".


Popular
  • Vettel sees a silver lining in Germany's World Cup failure

    Vettel sees a silver lining in Germany's World Cup failure

    Raikkonen replied: "I'm sorry but can you be direct?" "It's great to be here on Mercedes home ground and to get the one-two". Marcus Ericsson was ninth for Sauber and New Zealander Brendon Hartley 10th for Toro Rosso.
    TIME Magazine morphs Trump, Putin's faces on cover for 'Summit Crisis' story

    TIME Magazine morphs Trump, Putin's faces on cover for 'Summit Crisis' story

    But Coat's remarks at the came amid reported Russian claims that the two leaders reached unspecified agreements in their meeting. Foreign policy analysts also pushed back on Trump's view that the only alternative to a "good" relationship with Putin is war.
    Footage captures Missouri tourist boat capsizing

    Footage captures Missouri tourist boat capsizing

    What is a duck boat? Duck boats were originally used by the military during World War II and traveled in water and on land. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that investigators will arrive on the scene Friday morning.
  • Thousands Evacuate due to Mendocino Fires

    Thousands Evacuate due to Mendocino Fires

    But not everyone heeded the orders to evacuate. "It was a firestorm when we left", Lister said. "I'm very upset about it". Fire officials say a massive blaze in Northern California has torched 1,018 homes in and around the city of Redding.
    Uber, Lyft suspend driver who secretly livestreamed his passengers on Twitch

    Uber, Lyft suspend driver who secretly livestreamed his passengers on Twitch

    Uber has been under intense scrutiny over incidents of misbehaviour by drivers. 'This better be content, I swear to God. This month a man suspected of being the "ride-share rapist", who posed as an Uber driver in...
    Trump says he 'gave up nothing' at Putin meeting

    Trump says he 'gave up nothing' at Putin meeting

    Among them were Ukraine, Syria, Russian meddling in the US elections, and the nations' nuclear arsenal, according to Trump. During his Twitter rampage, Trump also claimed that the wiretap order was granted on false and misleading information.
  • Manchester United tour turns into a farce ahead of Real Madrid test

    Mourinho joined Manchester United three seasons ago after being sacked by Chelsea. Alexis is the only attacking player that we have.
    Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are reportedly engaged

    Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are reportedly engaged

    Chopra, who is great friends with Markle, attended the royal wedding on May 19, around the time she and Jonas started dating. PeeCee's exit was confirmed by the director of the film, Ali Abbas Zafar in a rather cryptic manner.
    Trump threatens tariffs on all $500B of Chinese imports

    Trump threatens tariffs on all $500B of Chinese imports

    When it came to interest rates, Nixon told his advisers "we'll take inflation if necessary, but we can't take unemployment". He accused Beijing of stealing intellectual property, manipulating the yuan, and exposing illegal export subsidy practices.
  • LeBron James'

    LeBron James' "The Shop" will debut on HBO in August

    James, now 33 years of age, knows a thing or two about what it's like to grow up in an inner-city environment. You feel like you're just supposed to play it out in one spot.
    Heavy rain in NYC may bring street flooding

    Heavy rain in NYC may bring street flooding

    The watch is also in effect for northeastern Pennsylvania and the counties of Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Tioga, and Tompkins. The National Weather Service in Binghamton has issued a flash flood watch for portions of central NY .
    Serena says she is victim of 'discrimination' over drug tests

    Serena says she is victim of 'discrimination' over drug tests

    Williams said at the time she had been tested five times on June, compared to one or none from some of her compatriots. Venus is now ranked World No.14, and is a five-time Wimbledon champion as well as twice victor of the US Open.

CONNECT