Blend of novices, veterans to fly on first private US spaceships

Blend of novices, veterans to fly on first private US spaceships

The astronauts will be the first Americans to launch into orbit from USA soil since NASA's space shuttle program shut down in 2011.

In a statement released Thursday, NASA and its Commercial Crew partners revealed more details of the effort to carry astronauts from the U.S.to the International 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".

NASA has named the astronauts chosen to fly on commercial spacecraft made by Boeing and SpaceX to and from the International Space Station, the research laboratory that orbits around Earth.

He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space.

Eric Boe is a former Air Force fighter pilot and test pilot, who previously piloted space shuttle Endeavour on the STS-126 mission and Discovery on its final flight, STS-133.

The test flights and missions aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, slated for as early as April 2019, will "begin a new era in America spaceflight", the USA space agency said.

Leading up to the ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the agency: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil".

"NASA is continuing to assess multiple scenarios to ensure continued US access to the International Space Station", the space agency told Bloomberg. SpaceX has leased NASA's historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida to launch Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

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The nine astronauts, most with previous experience in orbit, will ride the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner capsules to the International Space Station.

Josh Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. He also serves as a Navy commander, naval aviator and was a test pilot. A rookie to spaceflight, Cassada was selected by NASA in 2013.

Since 2011, the United States has relied on Russian Federation to ferry astronauts to the space station.

Sunita Williams was born in Euclid, Ohio, but considers Needham, Massachusetts, her hometown.

Astronauts come from the ranks of test pilots, so Ferguson said it became a natural step for him to aim for NASA, which he joined in 1998. Eric Boe, retired Navy Capt.

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

Michael Hopkins was born in Lebanon, Missouri, and grew up on a farm near Richland, Missouri. He's spent almost 29 days in space. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009.

NASA seems confident these dates will hold, and that the commercial crew program is finally on the home stretch.

In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX were awarded a combined $6.8 billion in contracts from NASA to develop spacecraft capable of flying crews to the station, the orbiting laboratory. "I look forward, sir, to getting you down there at some point out in Hawthorne [SpaceX's California headquarters] and maybe you can sit next to us in the cockpit and go through flying the iPhone to dock to space station".

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