NASA to announce which astronauts will fly on first commercial spaceships

Katie Ramirez
August 4, 2018

It is on the subsequent missions that the crew capsules will head to the space station and dock.

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).

NASA will announce Friday morning the names of the first astronauts to fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner.

SpaceX and Boeing have been working on their space taxi programs for almost four years, with the aim of transporting astronauts to and from the space station for NASA. Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to fly Crew Dragon for the first time in April 2019.

Besides Ferguson and Mann, the initial commercial crew members are: Eric Boe, Sunita Williams and John Cassada riding on Boeing.

Boeing has leased two of NASA's old space shuttle hangars at KSC, known as Orbiter Processing Facilities, to build its Starliners and house two small robotic X-37B space planes it built for the Air Force. She has spent a grand total of 322 days in space including a stint commanding the space station and performing seven spacewalks.

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

The space agency has partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner spacecraft to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 rocket, respectively.

1st Crewed Flights of Private Space Taxis Slip to 2019
Boeing's capsule is reusable up to 10 times with a six-month turnaround time, according to Starliner mechanical engineers. The first test was set for 2017, but it was delayed to this end of summer ( Boeing delaying it to the end of the year).

"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

After a almost decadelong hiatus, NASA plans to once again start launching piloted spacecraft from American soil, this time aboard two commercially developed vehicles, beginning in early to mid-2019.

She made headlines in 2007 for being the first person to run a full marathon in space.

"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a statement.

The crew missions have been delayed repeatedly because of the technical challenges and difficulties of making spacecraft safe for humans. Ever since the Space Shuttle Program ended, American astronauts have been paying for seats on Russia's Soyuz capsules to make it to the International Space Station where they live and work for a span of six months.

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". Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly with SpaceX. This will be his first spaceflight.

Four of the five astronauts named to the first Crew Dragon and Starliner flights are spaceflight veterans. They're both the result of NASA's Commercial Crew Program: a almost 10-year-long, $8-billion effort to maintain access to orbit for USA astronauts. 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. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014.

A commercial Dragon cargo craft launched June 29 departed the International Space Station and returned to Earth on Friday with almost two tons of cargo and research samples.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER