NASA to announce new astronaut class on Friday

NASA introduced the nine US astronauts who will fly on commercial Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft on Friday.

The program's core goals are to get an American-made ships able reach the International Space Station (ISS), plus reduce or eliminate U.S. reliance on Russia's ever-more-expensive Soyuz spaceships to get there.

"To work and live in space is just a humbling and unbelievable blessing in and of itself, and now to have the opportunity to work with these great companies on something that is so important to our nation and to NASA", Glover said.

3 the assignment of eight agency astronauts, a mix of veterans and rookies, as well as one company astronaut to fly on the first set of commercial crew missions by Boeing and SpaceX. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space".

NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann, along with Boeing's company astronaut Christopher Ferguson, will fly on the Boeing Starliner test flight. He flew on Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2008 with fellow Georgia Tech graduates Sandy Magnus and Shane Kimbrough.

NASA "has contracted six missions, with as many as four astronauts per mission, for each company", the agency said.

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday, standing in front of a giant American flag at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The return of crew flights to USA soil will end NASA's politically inconvenient reliance on Russian Federation for transporting astronauts to the ISS. SpaceX has leased NASA's historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida to launch Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

Recent delays have pushed back the first flights of the Starliner and crewed Dragon to 2019, with uncrewed test flights hopefully happening in November for SpaceX or late this year, early next year for Boeing.

Josh Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

Crew for each flight will include at least a flight commander and a pilot.

The announcement signals a milestone in the United States space program, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.

Suni Williams: Williams grew up in Needham, Massachusetts.

Clockwise from top left: Sunita Williams, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Eric Boe. While in the Air Force, he flew in 55 combat missions over Iraq. "We had our quarterly [review] this week, and for the first time in years, it felt real".

Astronauts come from the ranks of test pilots, so Ferguson said it became a natural step for him to aim for NASA, which he joined in 1998.

Mike Hopkins: Hopkins was raised on a farm near Richland, Missouri, and he has a master's in aerospace engineering. He has spent 166 days on the International Space Station for Expeditions 37/38, and conducted two spacewalks. He is an Air Force colonel.

Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's worldwide partners at a later date.

It is on the subsequent missions that the crew capsules will head to the space station and dock.

NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 as part of its commercial crew program, aimed at helping private industry build spaceships to reach low-Earth orbit.


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