NASA Introduces Nine Astronauts for First Commercial Flights

NASA Introduces Nine Astronauts for First Commercial Flights

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

Josh Cassada: Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

After years of vehicle development and building anticipation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has now put the crew in commercial crew spacecraft.

Williams has been named for the Boeing programme to the ISS - the first test flight scheduled to take place in the middle of 2019.

NASA named the crews for the first four flights planned with commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX at a Friday news conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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

It has been widely reported in the media worldwide that Nasa pays more than $70 million per seat to Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, to send its astronaut to the ISS using their spacecraft.

SpaceX and Boeing were picked by NASA in 2014 to develop spacecrafts to return that capability to the United States, and both companies are slated to launch their first crewed missions in the next year.

Cassada, a Navy commander and test pilot, joined the astronaut corps in 2013; the launch will be his first. All have a military background.




The nine astronauts - seven men and two women - waved and pumped their fists into the air as they appeared on stage to cheers from the crowd.

Behnken, Hurley, Boe and Sunita Williams have been training on SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner since July 2015.

She later said the energy in the packed auditorium was incredible. "I really think it's just the beginning", Mann told The Associated Press.

NASA has always been working on its commercial crew programme, helping to accelerate private companies' spaceflight capabilities while it focuses its own efforts on other space exploration projects, such as the Space Launch System slated to launch in 2020. Journey on one of the last shuttle missions to witness some final "firsts" made aboard this unique spacecraft. Boeing most recently suffered a problem while testing its emergency abort system and its first test flight won't be until at least mid-2019.

SpaceX's first crew tests on the Dragon capsule will be helmed by shuttle veterans Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. "But looks like it might". An astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams is among the nine. NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins would fly Dragon's first operational mission to the space station. 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. The astronauts have been training with SpaceX and Boeing, on top of their NASA work, ever since.

The group likened piloting a modern spaceship to driving an iPhone, with only a few switches compared to the 3,000 in the old shuttle cockpit.

Glover, a former Navy commander and test pilot, was also among the 2013 astronaut class. The crewed demonstration flight, with two astronauts on board, will follow in April 2019, four months later than previously announced. Boeing is aiming for a test flight at the end of this year or early next, and the first crew flight in the middle of next year.

SpaceX's ambitious Dragon Spacecraft rings in the good news of the successful completion of another International Space Station mission (CRS-15). "(I'm) going, 'Wow, I hope I'm going to make you proud'".

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