Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

NASA announces crew for the first American spacecraft launches since 2011

NASA announces crew for the first American spacecraft launches since 2011

NASA has announced what it said will be a new era in us space exploration, naming a group of nine astronauts charged with launching into space on private rockets from the United States.

Both spacecraft are now undergoing hardware tests, with final processing ahead as launch dates hover closer.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we want Americans to know that we are back", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the crowd. It will be fun and adventurous to see the astronauts take off from American soil and worth a wait to see them aboard the International Space Station.

Chris Ferguson, former NASA astronaut and commander of NASA's shuttle flight in 2011. Ferguson now works for Boeing and is poised to become the first-ever private company astronaut. Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander, is Boeing's director of crew and mission systems. Mann is a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and pilot of the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, while Boe is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who was a test pilot on the Boeing F-15. Mann's flight with Boeing will be her first to space. It's going to be a proud moment for America.

"We're ushering in this new era of American spaceflight". The first Crew Dragon arrived in Florida back in July for final processing, and NASA said the Falcon 9 that will be used for the uncrewed test flight will ship to Texas for testing in August. NASA also selected crew members to fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle. This will be his first spaceflight.

Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot.

Once Crew Dragon and Starliner are certified by NASA for regular use, they will be used for operational ISS flights around 2020.

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"I'm just really excited we're going to be able to take these spacecraft and show them off to our global partners", Williams told the crowd.

SpaceX's first crew will include naval aviator Victor Glover, also a novice to spaceflight, and shuttle veteran Michael Hopkins.

The Crew Dragon missions will pave the way for SpaceX's more ambitious projects, like sending the first humans to Mars as early as 2024. In 2013 and 2014, Hopkins spent almost six months aboard the ISS, logging almost 13 hours of spacewalks. However after 2019 NASA are on their own, as the agency hasn't committed to buying any further seats for its astronauts with their Russian counterparts.

The space agency has reason to be eager.

Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft now capable of returning cargo to Earth, and this was the second trip to the orbiting laboratory for this spacecraft.

Most have previous experience in orbit.

The successful flight marked the scheduled end of the 30-year space shuttle program.

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"This was above and beyond the NASA requirement in the contract", said NASA Kennedy Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders.

The agency said more crew members will be announced later.

Boeing has since identified the problem, he said, and is working to fix it.

The first piloted test flights are expected next spring. John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's Commercial Crew effort, explained that the earliest the company can "confidently" do a manned flight test will be in mid-2019.

The companies are running out of buffer.

But a Government Accountability Office report published last month raised alarm bells that the project is running behind schedule, and could miss key deadlines.

Nasa took the decision after the shuttle retired to turn transportation to low-Earth obit destinations into a service that it could buy. Since her selection as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks. "The ISS can not function without a USA presence on board to maintain and operate integral systems".

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