Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Trump Hails Astronauts That Will Fly on SpaceX and Boeing Spaceships

NASA assigns crews to first test flights, missions on commercial spacecraft NASA Names Astronaut Team To Pilot U.S. Private Spacecraft In 'New Era'
Doris Mccormick | 06 August, 2018, 14:29

The first Boeing Starliner mission to the ISS will be crewed by John Cassada, a NASA astronaut, physicist and Navy test pilot.

"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.

NASA assigned astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

The timetable for the launches was supposed to have been for test flights to take place before the end of 2018, but both companies have faced technical issues that may delay that into 2019.

The astronauts will carry out the first flight tests and missions of two leading Boeing and SpaceX crafts next year, NASA said, with the first test flight of a SpaceX Dragon capsule scheduled for April. For the first actual Crew Dragon mission, Victor Glover will undertake his first spaceflight alongside seasoned astronaut Michael Hopkins, who has spent 166 days aboard the space station. "A small investment from the American taxpayer has paid dividends to the point now where space has transformed the lives of not only every American, but every person on the face of the planet in so many ways that people usually don't even recognize it".

Both vehicles will launch from Florida - Boeing's Starliner, boosted by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and SpaceX's Dragon from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

The US space agency, meanwhile, is working on building rockets and spacecraft that could allow humans to return to the Moon in the coming decade.

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Taking the stage Friday before a huge American flag, Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, told the crews: "What a sacred honor this was to be part of this program and to fly you".

Boeing plans to do an uncrewed flight test of its CST-100 Starliner later this year or early next year.

"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", said Benji Reed, SpaceX Director of Crew Mission Management. On Friday, the space agency introduced the nine-member team tasked with making the first flights. She was selected as an astronaut in 1998, and went on spend 322 days aboard the ISS, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks.

"The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot", said Hurley, who flew on the last shuttle mission.

The first flight is expected sometime next year.

"The goal is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations", NASA said. What is not known is who gets to fly on which company's spacecraft, and on which flight they get to launch.

Glover, a father of four, was serving as a legislative fellow in the U.S. Senate when he joined NASA in 2013 - beating out a field of more than 6,100 applicants. The astronauts have been training with SpaceX and Boeing, on top of their NASA work, ever since. NASA also selected crew members to fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle. The NASA official states, "that NASA's two-pair crewmates will fly to the station with Russian cosmonauts and worldwide astronauts to be announced at a later date".

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