Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Sci-tech | By Javier West

NASA announces crew for the first American spacecraft launches since 2011

NASA announces crew for the first American spacecraft launches since 2011

The announcement is a milestone in the USA space programme, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon space capsule, which will make a trial trip attached to a Falcon rocket launched from Florida, will have a crew of two: Doug Hurley, who piloted both the Endeavor and the Atlantis, and Bob Behnken, who has six space trips on his resume.

He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and piloted space shuttle Endeavour for the STS-126 mission and Discovery on its final flight, STS-133.

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.

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. Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts.

From left to right: Astronauts Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Sunita Williams gave a thumbs up to the crowd.

After successful completion of the flight tests with crew, NASA will review flight data to verify the systems meet the agency's safety and performance certification requirements. SpaceX and Boeing were picked by NASA in 2014 to develop spacecrafts to return that capability to the United States, and both companies are slated to launch their first crewed missions in the next year. He commanded the final shuttle mission in 2011 and retired from NASA that same year.

The first Boeing Starliner mission to the ISS will be crewed by John Cassada, a NASA astronaut, physicist and Navy test pilot.

In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office said that further delays in NASA's so-called "Commercial Crew" program could "disrupt access to" the space station, which would be an enormous embarrassment for NASA after investing about $100 billion to build and operate it.

NASA's continuous presence on the space station for nearly 18 years has enabled technology demonstrations and research in biology and biotechnology, Earth and space science, human health, physical sciences.

Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine introduced the astronauts during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Williams said in Friday's interview that the new mission was "a test pilot's dream". She has spent a grand total of 322 days in space including a stint commanding the space station and performing seven spacewalks.

NASA has named the crew of astronauts tasked with reviving America's prowess in extraterrestrial travel.

In this illustration, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking. SpaceX aims to launch an uncrewed test flight in November of this year, with a Boeing test flight scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019. When he was in high school, Ferguson became "intrigued" with joining the Navy and flying jets, he said.

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