Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

NASA unveils astronauts who will relaunch human space flights from U.S.

NASA unveils astronauts who will relaunch human space flights from U.S.

NASA has unveiled the first astronauts to fly on private spaceships built by SpaceX and Boeing, and, just like the original Mercury Seven, NASA's first astronauts announced in 1959, these 21st century space travelers have "the right stuff".

The vessels, the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner, have been developed with billions of dollars in funding from NASA, which has contracted SpaceX and Northrop Grumman to make cargo deliveries to the space station since 2012.

In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX were awarded a combined $6.8 billion in contracts from NASA to develop spacecraft capable of flying crews to the station, the orbiting laboratory. Ferguson, now a Boeing employee, will be joined by veteran shuttle pilot Eric Boe and rookie astronaut Nicole Mann on the CST-100's Crew Test Flight, scheduled for liftoff in 2019.

He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space. Boeing's Ferguson was pilot on STS-116 on board Space Shuttle Atlantis as well as commander of STS-126 on Space Shuttle Endeavour and the final flight of the space shuttle program, STS-135 on board Atlantis.

US astronauts now ride on Russian capsules to the space station.

SpaceX and Boeing are shooting for a test flight of their capsules by the end of this year or early next, with the first crews flying from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by next spring or summer. He was selected by NASA in 2009, and spent 166 days aboard the International Space Station during a mission that launched on a Russian rocket in 2013. What is not known is who gets to fly on which company's spacecraft, and on which flight they get to launch. Nicole Aunapu Mann will be making her first flight; she completed her astronaut training in 2015.

VICE News spoke with Dennis Stone, one of the founding members of NASA's commercial investment program, to hear the story behind the agency's success in backing private spaceflight.

The commercial flights will mark the return of crew launches to the USA, which has not seen humans lift off for space since the end of the iconic space shuttle program seven years ago. He retired from NASA in 2011 and has been an integral part of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner program.

Josh Cassada: Coming to NASA after a career as a test pilot in the Navy, Cassada was chosen as an astronaut in 2013.

On the SpaceX vessel will be astronauts Doug Hurley, Victor Glover, Robert Behnken and Michael Hopkins. "It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the International Space Station".

Williams has already taken two trips to the space station, commanded it, and racked up 322 days in space, second on the all-time list for female astronauts.

Trump's Twitter praise for the astronauts did appear to gloss over the fact that NASA is actually paying SpaceX and Boeing to fly American astronauts.

For Crew Dragon, the now confirmed crew includes Navy commander, aviator, and test pilot Victor Glover. SpaceX's first operational flight to the space station will also be Glover's first flight to space.

Boe is one of nine people who were named as commercial crew astronauts during a ceremony Friday at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"This is the stuff of dreams ... this is a test pilot's dream", he said.

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