NASA Introduces First Batch Of Commercial Astronaut Crew
On Friday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the nine astronauts who will be the first to fly aboard commercial spacecraft en route to the International Space Station.
This project is part of NASA's Commercial Crew program which seeks to reinstate the capability of the United States to send American astronauts to space from US soil.
NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles seven years ago and since then, the US space agency has to rely on Russia with their Soyuz spacecraft to get into the International Space Station (ISS). This costs the US government close to a hundred million dollars for each seat.
Now, the US will have again the capacity to send its own people to space using its own spacecraft.
"We are on a brink of launching American astronauts, on American rockets, from American soil," Jim Bridenstine, NASA's head of administration said during an unveiling event held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas.
The nine people who will be taking part in this very ambitious spaceflight program are: (via Telegraph)
1. Victor Glover
2. Mike Hopkins
3. Bob Behnken
4. Doug Hurley
5. Nicole Aunapu Mann
6. Chris Ferguson
7. Eric Boe
8. Josh Cassada
9. Suni Williamson
Five of the named crew will be assigned to the first two Boeing flights, while the remaining four will fly aboard SpaceX.
According to CNBC, NASA granted contracts to the said private companies, giving them each the leeway to develop their own space shuttle programs.
Boeing, with its Starliner capsules, is slated to commence its first test flight sometime this year. Meanwhile, Elon Musk's brainchild, SpaceX, will begin flying its Dragon capsules by November.
In a follow-up report by Space Coast Daily, Behnken and Hurley will be the first two NASA astronauts to fly aboard the Dragon in April 2019. Both are spaceflight veterans with their credentials including flying the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2000.
The pair will soon be followed after by Glover and Hopkins. This will be their first time to go into space.
Meanwhile, Ferguson and Boe have also flown space shuttles for NASA before. They will be joined by neophyte Mann, who joined the agency five years ago. The trio is scheduled to fly in the middle of next year.
The remaining two, Williams and Cassada, will man the first Boeing space mission. Williams had already made seven spacewalks since her time at NASA. The latter, on the other hand, had only been in the agency since 2013.