NASA assigns astronauts to first commercial crew missions

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

Two companies have NASA contracts to provide flights to the ISS between 2019 and 2024: SpaceX and Boeing ba .

NASA on Friday announced the crews of the first flights from USA soil since the space shuttle retired in 2011, an elite group of astronauts that the agency hopes will help open a new era of space travel. And it's now apparent that SpaceX is slightly ahead-it will conduct a crewed test flight in April of next year, while Boeing's crewed test is only scheduled for "mid-2019". As the other astronauts donned NASA patches on their blue jumpsuits, Ferguson wore a Boeing applique.

"What an exciting and wonderful day", Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, said at the announcement at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The Starliner spacecraft is being outfitted at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, according to NASA.

In this illustration, a Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is shown in low-Earth orbit.

Mr. Ferguson, who has been involved from the start in the Starliner's development, flew three shuttle missions as a NASA astronaut. Mr. Boe piloted two shuttle flights.

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"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. It will be Mr. Glover's first time in space.

Crew Dragon, designed and built by Elon Musk's SpaceX, and the CST-100 Starliner, made by Boeing, are the two spacecraft being developed for NASA as part of its Commercial Crew Program.

Since the shuttle was retired seven years ago, US astronauts have had to fly on Russian rockets from a remote launch site in Kazakhstan. "The person who could do a spacewalk, do some robotics, had a test background if that was required for the mission at hand, and so really looking for a crew member that touches all those bases was really critical going forward", Behnken said.

NASA on Friday named the first nine astronauts who will fly to space on Boeing and SpaceX vehicles in 2019 - a mix of novices and veterans who are tasked with restoring America's ability to send humans into orbit.

Boeing; Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn illustration of a NASA astronaut flying with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon space capsules. Suni Williams, who is best known for running the Boston Marathon on an ISS treadmill, will be joined by rookie astronaut Josh Cassada. Mann was selected as an astronaut in 2013. The crew includes shuttle astronauts, crew members from the International Space Station and even some who have never flown out to space. He is the director of Crew and Mission Systems for Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. Mr. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014. In any case, SpaceX is now the presumed leader of the race to capture the flag left on the station by the final space shuttle crew-a flag that has been waiting to return to Earth for eight years and counting. And now, each new SpaceX launch becomes a media sensation -- while NASA's public profile is fading.

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