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SpaceX Will Fly Astronauts Before Boeing

Leading up to the ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the agency: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil".

Indian-origin United States astronaut Sunita Williams is among the nine astronauts named by Nasa on Friday for its first human spaceflight programme since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

Friday, NASA said that if unmanned test flights go smoothly, the group of nine astronauts will fly before then, on the first test flight and mission of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

Former shuttle commander Chris Ferguson, who helmed the final flight of the shuttle Atlantis in 2011, will lead a three-person crew on the first piloted mission of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule.

When test flights do launch, Boeing's flight is dubbed Orbital Flight Test followed by Crew Flight Test. SpaceX's first flight is dubbed Demonstration Mission 1 followed by Demonstration Mission 2.

When NASA selected these four astronauts to train for commercial crew vehicles, they expressed their excitement for the future of manned flight.

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

Bob Behnken: Behnken was chosen as an astronaut in 2000 and has been to space twice on two shuttle missions.

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3 the assignment of eight agency astronauts, a mix of veterans and rookies, as well as one company astronaut to fly on the first set of commercial crew missions by Boeing and SpaceX. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by the middle of next year. "To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station". This will be Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013. The astronauts are (L to R): Victor Glover, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins, Douglas Hurley, Eric Boe, Sunita Williams, Christopher Ferguson, Josh Cassada, and Nicole Mann.

On the first operational mission to the International Space Station, Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada would fly for Boeing.

A few months ago, both companies had hoped to start flying people by the end of this year.

SpaceX's Post-Certification Mission for the Crew Dragon Team Victor Glover (left) and Mike Hopkins (right).

In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX were awarded a combined $6.8 billion in contracts from NASA to develop spacecraft capable of flying crews to the station, the orbiting laboratory. "We had our quarterly [review] this week, and for the first time in years, it felt real".

The Starliner will launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, and the Dragon will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center about 10 miles away.

SpaceX is shooting for a test flight without passengers in November and a crew flight in April. Since her selection as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks.

The Government Accountability Office said in a recent report that Boeing's spacecraft could "tumble" in some abort scenarios, which "could pose a threat to the crew's safety".

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