NASA announced today the nine American astronauts who will launch from US soil to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time since 2011. The crew is assigned to the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon.
“For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,.” - @JimBridenstine on @Commercial_Crew announcement. pic.twitter.com/kM9IpNS4aH— NASA (@NASA) 3 August 2018
Nine astronauts introduced
The event was webcast live and was presided by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The nine men and women assigned to the new missions all came on stage for the ceremony and then proceeded to answer fan questions in a Reddit Ask Me Anything.
Do you have questions for our astronauts? They will take your questions during a Reddit Ask Me Anything at 12:30 p.m. EDT: https://t.co/U6XqcASCcg For more information: https://t.co/p1ivU6AwOZ pic.twitter.com/ftcPKN1ANX— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) August 3, 2018
Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson and Nicole Mann were revealed as the crew who will be on Boeing’s crew flight test aboard its Starliner spacecraft targeted to launch in mid-2019. Meanwhile, Josh Cassada and Suni Williams have been assigned to Boeing’s first post-certification mission.
Flying on the first crewed test flight of @BoeingSpace’s #Starliner spacecraft will be @Astro_Boe, @AstroDuke & @Astro_Ferg. After liftoff from @NASAKennedy in mid-2019, the trio will dock & undock autonomously to @Space_Station before returning to Earth: https://t.co/KurQccWAS0 pic.twitter.com/YdQazHF2jo— NASA (@NASA) 3 August 2018
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were then presented as the astronauts who will be on board SpaceX’s Crew Dragon demo mission 2 targeted to launch in April 2019. Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins will handle the first post-certification mission.
Flying on the first crewed test flight of @SpaceX’s #CrewDragon spacecraft will be @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug. The duo is slated to lift off from @NASAKennedy in April 2019 and will dock & undock autonomously to @Space_Station before returning home: https://t.co/YpRKYvN4Rw pic.twitter.com/pfVe2WVNqF— NASA (@NASA) 3 August 2018
A new generation of crew-carrying crafts
The Starliner and Crew Dragon are part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program currently cooperating with the American aerospace industry to develop a new generation of crew-carrying spacecraft. The aim is to bring forth the systems that will carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit in order to contribute to the expansion of ISS' research and discovery activities.
The ISS has been, is and will remain critical for NASA's work on long-duration spaceflight as well as missions related to the Moon, Mars and other planets. Boeing and SpaceX were selected in September 2014 as the companies who would have the privilege to transport NASA's astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.
The new schedule of launches will see up to four astronauts carried to the ISS at a time ensuring the station's crew of seven is always maintained.
The missions are meant to maximize the time the astronauts can dedicate to research in space, getting humanity further closer to the final frontier.