Boeing, SpaceX human spaceflight postponed to 2019

05 August, 2018, 17:42 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • 1st Crewed Flights of Private Space Taxis Slip to 2019

NASA has named the astronauts who will fly the first commercial capsules into orbit next year. NASA retired its space shuttle fleet that year, and started sending astronauts to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost of $81 million (U.S.) per seat.

"The goal is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations", NASA said.

Glover and astronaut Mike Hopkins will launch to the International Space Station for a long-duration mission aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

NASA announced the nine astronauts that will fly on the first crewed flights of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft during a ceremony here at the agency's Johnson Space Center.

On board Starliner's first mission will be NASA veteran Sunita Williams, a retired Navy captain and experienced space shuttle astronaut, and Josh Cassada, a Navy pilot making his first flight to space.

The successful flight marked the scheduled end of the 30-year space shuttle program. A NASA press release says more crew members may be added to those flights later.

During an announcement Friday to introduce the astronauts at Johnson Space Center in Texas, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the "health of NASA and our space exploration program is as strong as it's ever been".

Just days before the launch of the final space shuttle mission, Philadelphia native Chris Ferguson, the commander, was asked what it felt like to be a part of the historic flight. Boeing's spacecraft CST-100 Starliner is also expected to be reusable and will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

It is true, however, that SpaceX and Boeing are paying to use some facilities owned by NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

NASA officials didn't state why a three-person crew would be flying on the Starliner test flight, but the agency announced an agreement earlier this year with Boeing to study turning that crewed test flight into an operational mission in the event of further commercial crew delays. He joined the astronaut corps in 2000 and flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour twice, for the STS-123 and STS-130 missions, during which he performed six spacewalks totaling more than 37 hours. Mann was selected as an astronaut in 2013. An astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams is among the nine.

"This is the stuff of dreams ... this is a test pilot's dream", he said. The uncrewed test is planned for November; the test flight with crew aboard is set for April 2019. A rookie to spaceflight, Cassada was selected by NASA in 2013. While in the Air Force, he flew in 55 combat missions over Iraq.

NASA says that its astronauts will be joined by other global crew members, to be announced later on. The agency has doled out more than $8 billion in awards and contracts.

NASA paid seed money to SpaceX and Boeing to incentivize them to develop the crew capsules, picking up where the shuttle program left off. Both vehicles were developed in cooperation with NASA to deliver crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory.



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