NASA to announce new astronaut class on Friday

Here's Why Boeing Used an Inflatable Spaceship to Test'Starliner Landing Recovery Plans

Here's Why Boeing Used an Inflatable Spaceship to Test'Starliner Landing Recovery Plans

"NASA's Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to USA soil, providing safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements", said the official blog. "For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil".

After years of vehicle development and building anticipation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has now put the crew in commercial crew spacecraft. Boeing is set to perform an uncrewed test of Starliner using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket a few months after SpaceX, with a first flight with human crew expected for the middle of next year.

NASA will announce Friday morning the names of the first astronauts to fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner.

The space agency announced that the nine astronauts will launch on the first crewed test flights and missions of new commercial spacecraft built and operated by The Boeing Company and SpaceX.

This crew is made up of three astronauts: Eric Boe, who was the pilot of the space shuttle Endeavor; Chris Ferguson, who took part in the last launch; and rookie Nicole A. Mann.

This will be the first trip into space for Mr. Glover, Mr. Cassada and Ms. Mann.

NASA contracted both companies to shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station following the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011.

Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot. He's spent almost 29 days in space. NASA plans the first crewed test for April 2019.

The announcement of crew for these first four flights is a nice morale booster for the Commercial Crew program, but there's still a long way to go. "This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight". The Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. While both companies had recently said they would conduct their first test flights with astronauts on board by the end of this year, those flights are now scheduled for 2019.

Four of the eight astronauts will nearly certainly be Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley, and Sunita "Suni" Williams.

The astronauts assigned to the Starliner's first mission are Sunita Williams, who retired as a Navy captain, and Cmdr. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014. But the schedule has repeatedly moved to the right for SpaceX as well as Boeing, due to setbacks ranging from SpaceX's launch pad blow-up in 2016 to Boeing's engine valve problems this June.

The space station's operational lifespan has already been extended to reach 2025, though the White House recently began discussing the idea of turning the aging station over to commercial investors who might be interested in continuing the ISS's run of maintaining a continuously manned presence in space for almost two decades.

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