NASA to announce next generation space flight crew

06 August, 2018, 14:29 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket

For the past seven years, NASA astronauts have hitched rides to the orbiting outpost on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft - at a cost of some US$80 million a seat.

"Predicting launch dates can make a liar out of every one of us", acknowledged Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX.

"This is a big deal for our country and we want America to know that we are back", he said. Once they receive the certification, NASA expects the companies to launch as many as six crews to the International Space Station.

The Indian-origin astronaut, Williams, is named for the Boeing programme to the International Space Centre (ISS). Boeing astronaut, and retired NASA astronaut, Chris Ferguson joins the eight commercial crew astronauts as the first citizen astronaut. Ferguson now works for Boeing and is poised to become the first-ever private company astronaut.

Today's crew announcement for the SpaceX and Boeing test flights is a major step for NASA's push to restore American crewed access to space from USA soil. He came to NASA from the Air Force, where he was a fighter pilot and test pilot and rose to the rank of colonel. The test launch will be her first trip to space. Her sister Dina said that the family is proud of her achievements. It was a pomp event that could herald a new era in NASA's history. SpaceX is targeting November for its inaugural Crew Dragon test flight, but Boeing won't launch its passenger spacecraft Starliner until late this year or early next.

Of the nine astronauts selected to serve as crew members, all but three are space flight veterans. "We take it seriously". NASA will only put astronauts on board once uncrewed flight tests have made the return journey to Earth and spacecraft systems have been validated by data reviews.

NASA astronauts Victor Glover, a 1999 Cal Poly graduate, and Mike Hopkins have been selected to fly Crew Dragon, a private spaceship built by SpaceX, to the International Space Station in 2019.

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Last week, Boeing confirmed that it had a problem with its launch abort system, which is created to ferry crews to safety in the event of an emergency. It will be first spaceflight for 45-year-old Cassada while Williams has the experience of two stays at the ISS.

Trump's Twitter praise for the astronauts did appear to gloss over the fact that NASA is actually paying SpaceX and Boeing to fly American astronauts. No female astronaut has logged more spacewalk time.

"This is truly an exciting time for human spaceflight in our nation, and believe me, it's only going to get better as we charge off into the future", said Bob Cabana, a former shuttle commander who now heads Kennedy Space Center.

"I'm sure that there is at least one Russian language instructor out there who thinks that having me fly a USA vehicle is not a bad idea", Cassada said.

NASA today laid out a newly stretched-out schedule for flying astronauts to the International Space Station from USA soil, with SpaceX's first such flight set for no earlier than next April. She's no stranger to high-speed flight, however, being an F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours across over 25 aircraft. In 2013 and 2014, Hopkins spent almost six months aboard the ISS, logging almost 13 hours of spacewalks. He retired from NASA in 2011 and has been an integral part of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner program.

And astronauts will fly on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner sometime after that, in the middle of 2019.

The space agency has reason to be eager.

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