These Are the Names of the SpaceX and Boeing Astronauts

Cesar Mills
August 8, 2018

The new commercial capsules will replace NASA's space shuttle program, which last flew in 2011.

"We are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during the "Launch America" announcement.

NASA assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon. It turns out NASA's much-awaited Commercial Crew Program will see its first Boeing crewed flight mid-2019 and its SpaceX one as early as April 2019. He flew aboard three shuttle missions, including the program's final mission in 2011. He was selected by NASA in 2009, and spent 166 days aboard the International Space Station during a mission that launched on a Russian rocket in 2013.

The first crew to be presented was that of the Boeing Starliner capsule, which will make a trial flight scheduled for mid-2019 and will be boosted into space from Florida's Kennedy Space Center by an Atlas V rocket of the United Launch Alliance. "With the additional access to space, new industries will develop in the years ahead at an increasing rate", said Lissy Donald, managing director of Compass International - a UAE-based firm that is the regional partner of Nasa and the U.S. and Space Rocket Centre. 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.

Since then, they have been in a race to see which company would fly first in what's become a sort of modern-day space race. NASA has unveiled the first astronauts to fly on private spaceships built by SpaceX and Boeing, and, just like the original Mercury Seven, NASA's first astronauts announced in 1959, these 21st century space travelers have "the right stuff".

NASA plans to launch American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station next year - and a Cal Poly alumnus has been selected to pilot one of the missions.

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The space agency's priority is safe, reliable and cost-effective travel to low-Earth orbit and back (at least for now) for the crewed flight tests called Demo-1 by SpaceX and Orbital Flight Test by Boeing.

Assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification missions will be revealed during an event that kicks off at 11 a.m. EDT at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Cassada, a Navy commander and test pilot, joined the astronaut corps in 2013; the launch will be his first. Boeing and Space Adventures, the USA company that arranged space tourist flights on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, have a partnership that could allow paying passengers to ride in a fifth seat on CST-100 missions for shorter-duration missions.

In this illustration, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking. She has spent 322 days in orbit during two missions to the space station.

Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's worldwide partners at a later date. Originally, both companies were contractually bound to meet all of NASA's requirements in 2017. The crewed flight tests will mostly mirror the uncrewed missions, except a flight commander and pilot will be manning each mission once they are ready for a human crew.

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