NASA Names Astronauts for First Manned US Mission Since 2011

04 August, 2018, 18:52 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Boeing Starliner

A NASA press release says more crew members may be added to those flights later.

The first US astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, waving after being announced, (left to right) Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Suni Williamson at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on August 3.

Boeing plans to do an uncrewed flight test of its CST-100 Starliner later this year or early next year.

NASA has named the crew of astronauts tasked with reviving America's prowess in extraterrestrial travel.

On Friday, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine introduced the nine astronauts, who will fly on the first four crewed missions using the new craft.

NASA has always been working on developing its commercial crew programme while it can focus on its space exploration projects, the report added.

The team is split into two parts, with each group specializing in one of the spacecraft: Boeing's CST-100 Starliner or SpaceX's Dragon. The astronauts are (L to R): Victor Glover, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins, Douglas Hurley, Eric Boe, Sunita Williams, Christopher Ferguson, Josh Cassada, and Nicole Mann. This will be her first trip to space.

The new spaceflight capability provided by Boeing and SpaceX will allow NASA to maintain a crew of seven astronauts on the space station, thereby maximizing scientific research that leads to breakthroughs and also aids in understanding and mitigating the challenges of long-duration spaceflight. Since the last shuttle flight, NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station.

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".

Crewed test flights will likely occur next spring, with Chris Ferguson, a Boeing vice president who was the commander of the last shuttle mission, Eric Boe, a former shuttle pilot, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, a former Navy pilot who will be making her first space flight, onboard the Boeing CST-100 Starliner.

Of the nine astronauts tapped to serve as crew members, all but three are space flight veterans.

Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot. Since then, the space agency has turned to private space firms, like SpaceX, to oversee cargo runs to the ISS, while sending United States astronauts there on Russian rockets. SpaceX's manned test flight will feature two NASA astronauts.

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 USA about $3 billion annually. Mr. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014.

NASA seems confident these dates will hold, and that the commercial crew program is finally on the home stretch.


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