Meet NASA's New Astronauts Flying SpaceX And Boeing Ships to Space

NASA will name 1st astronauts to fly commercial spacecraft to International Space Station

The aviation companies will be conducting test flights at the end of this year and next, and astronauts will leave for the worldwide space station Cape Canaveral in Florida next spring or summer.

On Friday, NASA announced that Ferguson will command what could be the first launch of astronauts from US soil since the shuttle program's swan song seven years ago. Boeing said earlier this week it would carry out a test flight of the Starliner vehicle without humans later this year or in early 2019, after it suffered an issue with the capsule's launch abort system during a test in New Mexico in June, according to SpaceNews.

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

NASA has always been working on its commercial crew programme, helping to accelerate private companies' spaceflight capabilities while it focuses its own efforts on other space exploration projects, such as the Space Launch System slated to launch in 2020.

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The team is split into two parts, with each group specializing in one of the spacecraft: Boeing's CST-100 Starliner or SpaceX's Dragon. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009.

SpaceX's first crew tests on the Dragon capsule will be helmed by shuttle veterans Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. This will be her first trip to space.

Since the shuttle was retired seven years ago, USA astronauts have had to fly on Russian rockets from a remote launch site in Kazakhstan.

The astronauts assigned to the Starliner's first mission are Sunita Williams, who retired as a Navy captain, and Cmdr.

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Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot.

On the right, NASA astronauts conduct a fully-suited exercise in Boeing's CST-100 Starliner mock-up trainer in early May at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The four missions mark the first time any spacecraft will send astronauts into space from the United States since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. SpaceX's manned test flight will feature two NASA astronauts. "We're honored by NASA's selection, and certain that Chris will continue to set the bar high for future Drexel graduates as he reaches for the stars".

Victor Glover, 42, and Michael Hopkins, 49, will fly on the first operational mission of SpaceX's crewed Dragon.

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Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will be launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. She has logged 322 days in space. In any case, SpaceX is now the presumed leader of the race to capture the flag left on the station by the final space shuttle crew-a flag that has been waiting to return to Earth for eight years and counting.

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