Monday, 22 October, 2018

NASA announces crew for commercial spaceships

NASA is naming 8 astronauts to fly SpaceX and Boeing's new spaceships - here's how to watch the announcement live NASA will name 1st astronauts to fly commercial spacecraft to International Space Station
Frank Williams | 04 August, 2018, 05:01

NASA introduced the nine US astronauts who will fly on commercial Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft on Friday.

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

The Starliner spacecraft is being outfitted at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, according to NASA.

Following this first trial flight, two pilots will travel in the Starliner to the ISS: Suni Williams, who since he was picked to be an astronaut in 1998 has made seven space flights and has spent more than 322 days in the stratosphere, and Josh Cassada, who has yet to make his first space flight.

NASA recently assigned nine astronauts to four commercial crew flights on upcoming Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft. NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann are slated for the test flight of Boeing's Starliner, accompanied by former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, who now works as a commercial astronaut for Boeing.

From left to right: Astronauts Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Sunita Williams gave a thumbs up to the crowd.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's announcement signals a milestone in the US space program, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. He was selected for astronaut candidacy in July 2000 and was assigned to technical duties after two years of training.

"Rockets are fun. I'll be ready, I can't wait", Williams said in an interview posted Friday on the International Space Station Facebook page.

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The Government Accountability Office said in a recent report that Boeing's spacecraft could "tumble" in some abort scenarios, which "could pose a threat to the crew's safety". NASA says this was actually not a requirement for certifying the vehicles, but both companies opted to perform end-to-end flight tests to ensure the entire integrated system worked properly.

The eight NASA astronauts will also be joined by a Boeing astronaut. It now looks like SpaceX will be the first to launch humans on its crew Dragon spacecraft, set for April 2019. Bob Behnken of the Air Force and Doug Hurley, a retired Marine Corps colonel.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.

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

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.

NASA TV is broadcasting video of the announcement live from Texas.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will be launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

In this illustration, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking. The two companies have also developed new spacesuits, modified their launch pads and established mission control teams to support the upcoming flights.

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