NASA announces astronauts for Boeing, SpaceX launches for U.S.

Posted Aug 3, 2018 by Karen Graham
NASA named nine astronauts Friday who hope to blast off next year on flights to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard commercial spacecraft built by Boeing and SpaceX.
The astronauts are  from left to right: Sunita Williams  Josh Cassada  Eric Boe  Nicole Mann  Christ...
The astronauts are, from left to right: Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover.
At a press conference Friday morning at Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced eight current NASA astronauts, several who have been to space before, as well as bringing a ninth former astronaut who now works for Boeing on stage.
"Having an opportunity to introduce you to these American heroes is unique," said Bridenstine. The nine astronauts will be the first crews to launch from the U.S. to the ISS since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. “For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching Americans astronauts from American rockets from American soil,” Bridenstine said.
Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken and Sunita Williams had been named earlier to be crew members but had not been assigned a specific flight or vehicle. The expanded nine-member commercial crew now has six spaceflight veterans, including Chris Ferguson, the commander of that final shuttle mission and now a Boeing vice president, along with three rookies, reports CBS.
The crew for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner
For Boeing's first CST-100 Starliner mission, whenever it occurs - Chris Ferguson will be joined by former shuttle pilot Eric Boe and rookie astronaut Nicole Mann, a former Navy F/A-18 pilot.
Of Course, Boe was one of the four original astronauts chosen for the commercial crew mission. Ferguson, while helping in the development of the Starliner, was always expected to fly in the first crewed mission for Boeing.
While Nicole Mann may be a rookie astronaut, she brings an impressive resume to the space program, having logged in over 2,500 hours of flying time, 200 carrier landings and 47 combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It's also an opportunity of a lifetime, to be involved in the test and development and then to be there on launch day, and to experience the results of all that hard work,” Mann told the Orlando Sentinel. “It's going to be a proud moment for the team. It's going to be a proud moment for America. So I’m just grateful to be able to help to usher in this new era in American space flight.”
The second CST-100 flight to the ISS will include Sunita Williams, one of the original four and one of NASA's most experienced astronauts with 322 days in space during two station stays, and astronaut Josh Cassada, a rookie who holds a doctorate in particle physics.
The SpaceX Dragon first flight crew
The first crew for the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight, which may end up being the first to launch, features two NASA astronauts: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Behnken flew on Endeavour twice, STS-123 and STS-130, while Hurley was pilot on Endeavour for STS-127 and Atlantis on STS-135.
Both Hurley and Behnken were part of the original group of four commercial crew astronauts. “The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot and you don't think it's ever going to happen to you, and it looks like it might,” Hurley said, to which Bridenstine said, “Oh it better.”
For SpaceX's first operational flight, the Dragon crew will include Victor Glover on his first space flight and Mike Hopkins, who spent 166 days in space as part of Expedition 37/38.
We really must successfully launch a manned crew spacecraft to ISS before the end of 2019. So the commercial crew program is a critical next step in the private-sector development of low-Earth orbit.