Blend of novices, veterans to fly on first private U.S. spaceships

08 August, 2018, 21:34 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Starliner and Crew Dragon

Mr. Behnken, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Boe and Ms. Mann are NASA's first astronauts to be named to the test flights of new US spacecraft since the March 1978 announcement of the space shuttle's first orbital flight test crews.

Following SpaceX's first demonstration mission without humans aboard Crew Dragon targeted for November 2018, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first two NASA astronauts to fly in the Dragon spacecraft. Some, however, deem that target ambitious.

All nine astronauts have military experience, and most are seasoned veterans of space.

For SpaceX, the Crew Dragon test flight astronauts are spaceflight veterans, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley. The astronauts have been training with SpaceX and Boeing, on top of their NASA work, ever since.

Indian-origin USA astronaut Sunita Williams is among the nine astronauts named by NASA who will fly the first missions into space on commercially provided rockets and capsules, starting next year. The test launch will be her first trip to space.

"The men and women we assign to these first flights are at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight", Mark Geyer, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston said in a statement. Their mission is scheduled for April 2019.

NASA has named the astronauts chosen to fly on commercial spacecraft made by Boeing and SpaceX to and from the International Space Station, the research laboratory that orbits around Earth. Williams has already spent more than 300 days in space.

More astronaut crew members will be assigned to flight missions in the future, and both mission crews expressed the importance of adding them as soon as possible in order to reduce training challenges for both the crew and training teams. It will be Glover's first mission.

June 30, 2011-NASA's space shuttle has been an icon of the USA space program for the past 30 years.




The move marks a significant shift in the US space program, which will now combine NASA-trained astronauts with private sector space capsules. The tweet's second sentence seems to suggest that Boeing and SpaceX are paying the government to fly the missions.

The Government Accountability Office recently issued a warning to NASA that it needs to have a contingency plan in place to ensure continued access to the space station, which costs the United States about $3 billion annually.

The US space agency, meanwhile, is working on building rockets and spacecraft that could allow humans to return to the Moon in the coming decade.

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".

Eric Boe was born in Miami and grew up in Atlanta. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. He flew on a Space Shuttle Endeavour mission in 2008 and a Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 2011.

Nicole Aunapu Mann is a California native and a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps. She has a master's in mechanical engineering. He is a Navy commander, aviator and test pilot with nearly 3,000 hours flying more than 40 different aircraft.

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. She has logged 322 days in space. He retired from NASA after commanding the final shuttle mission in 2011, and eventually joined Boeing to help develop Starliner.

Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts.

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