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Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

NASA names astronauts for Boeing, SpaceX flights

NASA names astronauts for Boeing, SpaceX flights

Their voyages are scheduled to begin next year, and they would be the first American astronauts to launch from USA soil since 2011.

NASA said the spacecraft returned to Earth with more than 3,800 pounds (more than 1,700 kilograms) of cargo, including specimens from biological experiments conducted on-board the space station.

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday, standing in front of a giant American flag at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The crew of the Boeing Starliner's first test flight will be NASA astronaut Eric Boe, a retired Air Force colonel who flew on two space shuttle missions; Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, a former Navy captain and NASA astronaut who flew three shuttle missions, including the final mission in 2011; and NASA astronaut Nicole Mann who will make her first spaceflight after a career as a Marine corps lieutenant colonel, fighter pilot and test pilot. The astronauts are (L to R): Victor Glover, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins, Douglas Hurley, Eric Boe, Sunita Williams, Christopher Ferguson, Josh Cassada, and Nicole Mann. It will be Glover's first time in space.

A suburban St. Louis native is among the astronauts who will ride the first commercial capsules into orbit next year.

When NASA selected these four astronauts to train for commercial crew vehicles, they expressed their excitement for the future of manned flight.

The eight NASA astronauts will also be joined by a Boeing astronaut. What is not known is who gets to fly on which company's spacecraft, and on which flight they get to launch.

NASA/Kennedy Space Center (via Flickr); Boeing; Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn illustration of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft (left) and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft (right).

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

Prior to their maiden crewed missions, both Boeing and SpaceX plan uncrewed test flights in late 2018 or early 2019.

A series of thruster firings propelled the Dragon capsule away from the space station, and the ship's Draco thrusters ignited at 5:23 p.m. EDT (2123 GMT) for a de-orbit burn.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will be launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The test flight with crew is scheduled for mid-2019.

The two pairs of Nasa crewmates will fly to the station with Russian cosmonauts and worldwide astronauts to be announced at a later date.

There's no guarantee that either SpaceX or Boeing will stick to the schedule announced today.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is facilitating the development of a USA commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. That would include adding a third astronaut to the mission and extending its stay on the station from two weeks to up to six months.

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