NASA assigns astronauts to SpaceX, Boeing test flights

NASA is naming 8 astronauts to fly SpaceX and Boeing's new spaceships - here's how to watch the announcement live

NASA is naming 8 astronauts to fly SpaceX and Boeing's new spaceships - here's how to watch the announcement live

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the event attended by several members of Congress and other NASA and industry officials.

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.

The crews will travel to the International Space Station aboard two commercial spacecraft that Boeing and SpaceX plan to send into the stratosphere sometime during the coming year.

The manned test flight from Boeing will feature one NASA astronaut and one Boeing employee, most likely former astronaut Chris Ferguson. Boeing said earlier this week it would carry out a test flight of the Starliner vehicle without humans later this year or in early 2019, after it suffered an issue with the capsule's launch abort system during a test in New Mexico in June, according to SpaceNews.

"The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot", said Hurley, who flew on the last shuttle mission. Since then, NASA has been forced to rely exclusively on Russia's increasingly expensive Soyuz spaceships to get to the International Space Station (ISS), in which the United States government has invested about $100 billion.

The first SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the space station will include NASA astronaut and Navy test pilot Victor Glover, who has logged more than 3,000 hours flying 40 different aircraft and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who has logged 166 days in space so far.

The announcement is expected to take place at 11 a.m.at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. He made the introductions in a crowded auditorium at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He retired from NASA in 2011 and has been an integral part of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner program.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.

In 2015, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams were assigned to the commercial crew program to provide the astronaut's perspective during commercial crew development. This will be Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013. Two top Navy pilots, Josh Cassada and Suni Williams, will be on a subsequent Starliner flight ― considered the craft's first mission. The unmanned test flight is scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019.

NASA awaits the completion of both companies' test flights before certifying either safe for use to return astronauts on low-Earth-orbit missions. It won't be the first time SpaceX trounces Boeing. 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.

The Starliner will launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. "Falcon 9's first and second stages for the Demo-1 mission are targeted to ship from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California to the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas for additional testing in August", NASA said. She has spent a grand total of 322 days in space including a stint commanding the space station and performing seven spacewalks.

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