Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

NASA Announces Crews for Private 'Space Taxi' Project

NASA Announces Crews for Private 'Space Taxi' Project

NASA announced the nine astronauts that will fly on the first crewed flights of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft during a ceremony here at the agency's Johnson Space Center.

NASA also named today the astronauts for those flights: Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins will fly aboard the first operational Crew Dragon, while John Cassada and Sunita Williams will fly aboard the first operational Starliner. NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann, along with Boeing's company astronaut Christopher Ferguson, will fly on the Boeing Starliner test flight.

The astronauts will fly into space on Boeing and Space X vehicles in 2019, making it NASA's first human spaceflight program since the retirement of space shuttle in 2011.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended NASA pursue a backup plan for getting astronauts to the ISS, as its contract with Russian Federation to send them to the station via Soyuz launches in Kazakhstan ends at the close of 2019.

"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.

Trump's Twitter praise for the astronauts did appear to gloss over the fact that NASA is actually paying SpaceX and Boeing to fly American astronauts.

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Boeing has leased two of NASA's old space shuttle hangars at KSC, known as Orbiter Processing Facilities, to build its Starliners and house two small robotic X-37B space planes it built for the Air Force.

All nine have military experience in Navy, Air Force, or Marines. NASA has worked closely with the companies throughout design, development and testing to ensure the systems meet its safety and performance requirements.

This mission, now targeted for April 2019, will liftoff from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the astronauts aboard Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

Of the four crews named, two will launch test flight missions and two crews will launch to the International Space Station where they will live and work in space before returning to Earth in the crew vehicles. Space X, the private space company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk put out Dragon as the first private aircraft to berth with the ISS. Her first was a space shuttle mission that launched in 2007, and the second was a Soyuz-launched mission in 2012.

The goal is vital for NASA's future space station experiments. He's performed six spacewalks totaling almost 40 hours.

Williams has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station since becoming an astronaut in 1998. Ferguson is the only non-NASA astronaut.

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SpaceX did not give a reason for the delay of its first crewed test flight. Boe was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2000.

Victor Glover: Glover is a native of Pomona, California and he has three master's degrees.

For the missions to be successful, both capsules will have to launch, travel safely to the International Space Station (ISS), dock and undock autonomously and then safely bring the crews back to Earth.

Mike Hopkins: Hopkins was raised on a farm near Richland, Missouri, and he has a master's in aerospace engineering.

"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 USA and Space Rocket Centre.

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