What We Know About the 9 Astronauts Flying the New Commercial Ships
Boeing and SpaceX, meet your new crews. NASA recently assigned nine astronauts to four commercial crew flights on upcoming Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft.
“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) August 3, 2018
But who exactly are the people behind the announcement? What are their histories, and what qualifications do they have to get them to this historic point?
Boeing's Starliner Spacecraft Test Crew
These three astronauts are responsible for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft. The Starliner is currently set to launch in the middle of 2019.
Eric Boe is no stranger to NASA's Space Shuttle program. The US Air Force fighter pilot Colonel has also served as a test pilot. He was selected for astronaut candidacy in July 2000 and was assigned to technical duties after two years of training.
Boe's first trip as a pilot was aboard the Endeavour in 2008. His second flight as a pilot was the final scheduled flight of the Discovery -- the third-to-last flight of the NASA Space Shuttle Program.
U.S. Naval Academy graduate Nicole Mann completed her astronaut candidate training in July 2015. In addition to her Naval Academy successes, she earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 2001.
Despite her relatively recent success in her work with NASA as an astronaut, NASA officials have noted she's the type of astronaut who could be sent on a manned mission to Mars or to an asteroid.
Christopher Ferguson understands not only NASA but also Boeing. The retired US Navy Captain piloted the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2006. He also served as commander of the Endeavour. He is the last person to serve as a commander for the NASA space shuttle program.
He retired from NASA in 2011, and he currently directs the Crew and Mission Operations for Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. Ferguson will work as the commander of the Starliner during its orbital test mission.
Boeing's Post-Certification Mission Team
Sunita Williams is a United States Navy Officer and astronaut.
She once held the record for total number of spacewalks conducted by a woman (7 walks) and most spacewalk time for a female (50 hours, 40 minutes) during her time on the International Space Station. She served as a member of ISS Expedition 14 and Expedition 15. She returned to the ISS as the flight engineer on Expedition 32 in 2012 and then served as commander for Expedition 33. The 52-year-old is of Indo-Slovenian descent and was born in Ohio.
She made headlines in 2007 for being the first person to run a full marathon in space. She qualified for the Boston Marathon, and race officials allowed her to complete the distance onboard the ISS via a treadmill. Williams also completed the Boston Marathon in 2008 but ran on Earth.
Astronaut Josh Cassada is a physicist by training. Not only did he graduate in the astronaut class of 2013, Cassada served as co-founder and CTO of Quantum Opus. The company makes superconducting instruments and is located in Michigan.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon Demo Mission Team
The second demo mission of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft is set to launch in April 2019.
Hurley's history includes being a pilot for the United States Marine Corps. He joined NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut, and piloted the space shuttle Endeavor for STS-127. The New York native also piloted the space shuttle Atlantist for STS-135 for its final space shuttle mission.
Robert "Bob" Behnken isn't just an astronaut. He's also an Air Force Officer and former Chief of the Astronaut Office for NASA. He holds a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering. He's logged over 1,000 flight hours in 25 different types of aircraft.
During his work with NASA, he's collected over 378 hours of space time and 19 hours of spacewalk time. He's also married to another astronaut, K. Megan McArthur.
SpaceX's Post-Certification Mission for the Crew Dragon Team
Mike Hopkins grew up on a farm in Missouri, and he serves as a colonel in the Air Force in addition to being an astronaut. He's spent 166 days aboard the ISS and worked on Expeditions 37 and 38. He's also done two spacewalks since being selected for the astronaut program in 2009.
California native Victor Glover is a Naval aviator and Navy commander. As a test pilot, he's logged over 3,000 flying hours in over 40 types of aircraft. He's also flown in 24 combat missions and 400 carrier landings. This historic commercial flight with SpaceX will be Glover's first spaceflight.
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