Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

NASA Taps Astronauts for Commercial Flights

Sunita Williams Sunita Williams
Kristen Harrington | 07 August, 2018, 12:54

Lawmakers in Congress, however, insisted that NASA still needed to develop its own rocket and space capsule, called the Space Launch System.

"Predicting launch dates can make a liar out of every one of us", acknowledged Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX.

The eight active NASA astronauts and one former astronaut-turned-corporate crew member will launch on Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Dragoncapsules to the International Space Station beginning in 2019. (BA) to the punch when it comes to flying astronauts to the International Space Station.

The Starliner test flight astronauts named by the agency are Eric Boe, Christopher Ferguson, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, while the Crew Dragon test flight astronauts would be Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

The new commercial capsules will replace NASA's space shuttle program, which last flew in 2011. He was a test pilot and colonel in the Marine Corps before coming to NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut.

"It's absolutely the opportunity of a lifetime", said Mann.

"I'm just grateful to help usher in this new era of American spaceflight", Ferguson told the crowd.

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Behnken, Hurley, Boe and Sunita Williams have been training on SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner since July 2015.

The successful flight marked the scheduled end of the 30-year space shuttle program. "Thank you very much-we take it seriously, and we won't let you down".

It was back in September 2014 when NASA first announced that SpaceX and Boeing would fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The first full mission will send first-time astronaut Josh Cassada into space alongside Sunita Willians, who has spent 322 days aboard the space station. He went to space again during Discovery's last mission in 2011.

"This is the stuff of dreams ... this is a test pilot's dream", he said. He's spent almost 29 days in space.

These US astronauts previously flew aboard Russian spacecraft to get to the ISS.

SpaceX's first NASA mission to the ISS, in turn, will include Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins.

When Glover left San Luis Obispo almost 20 years ago, he joined the U.S. Navy and began his career as a Naval Aviator and test pilot.

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The Pasadena native accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flying time in more than 40 aircraft, with 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions.

NASA ended the shuttle program seven years ago after 135 missions as the space agency shifted its priorities to developing hardware for deep space travel. That is why in 2010 NASA started accepting proposals from commercial companies that were making astronaut transportation systems.

The space agency has reason to be eager.

NASA's investment also aims to boost private industry, which has flocked into low-Earth orbit in recent years for tourism, the satellite industry, and more. He has logged more than 40 days in space across three space shuttle missions.

Boeing, meanwhile, hopes to launch its first uncrewed test flight in late 2018 or early 2019, with the first crewed launch expected in mid-2019. Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to fly Crew Dragon for the first time in April 2019.

The aviation companies will be conducting test flights at the end of this year and next, and astronauts will leave for the worldwide space station Cape Canaveral in Florida next spring or summer.

The companies are running out of buffer. "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.

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