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

SpaceX Dragon SpaceX Dragon spacecraft SpaceX Falcon 9 International Space Station ISS NASA SpaceX spacecraft SpaceX rocket

NASA introduced to the world on Friday the first US astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station - an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to USA soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.

"Space has transformed the American way of life", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during the event. Robert Behnken, Doug Hurley, Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson, and Nicole Aunapu Mann are expected to launch aboard SpaceX and Boeing-operated vehicles in 2019, providing uncrewed flight tests of both spacecraft go well first.

He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space.

Crew Dragon, designed and built by Elon Musk's SpaceX, and the CST-100 Starliner, made by Boeing, are the two spacecraft being developed for NASA as part of its Commercial Crew Program. Williams has been assigned to the second flight demo of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner. Eric Boe is a former Air Force fighter pilot and test pilot, who previously piloted space shuttle Endeavour on the STS-126 mission and Discovery on its final flight, STS-133.

"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a statement.

The astronauts - named at a buoyant event held at Johnson Space Center in Houston - will be the first to launch from USA soil since NASA retired its space shuttle programin 2011. This collaborative effort is to further commercial space flights, to launch humans into space from the United States soil. Ever since her selection as an astronaut (1998), Williams has been twice aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and also held record for total spacewalks by a woman and most spacewalk time for a woman. The Crew Dragon will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In fact, NASA is paying Boeing and SpaceX billions to fly Americans to and from the International Space Station.

The crew for the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight, which may end up being the first to launch, features two NASA astronauts: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

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

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The space agency selected eight of its finest active astronauts, plus one retired astronaut, from a wide array of backgrounds. Josh Cassada of the Navy, who will be making his first voyage into space.

NASA has unveiled the first astronaut crews to fly on private spaceships built by SpaceX and Boeing.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.

SpaceX and Boeing are planning a test flight of their capsules by the end of this year or early 2019. She is an F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours in more than 25 aircraft.

Boeing's and SpaceX's commercial spacecraft may also open the space station - and more broadly, Earth orbit - to more privately-funded visitors and spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft and rockets. SpaceX is trying to fix design issues with gas vessels and cracks in its engine turbines, and it's working to ensure that its rocket fueling process-which calls for filling the rockets while astronauts are on board-is sufficiently safe.

Team Boeing consists of retired Air Force Col.

The goal now is to complete the certification for sending humans to space in 2019. "We won't let you down".

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