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NASA to announce which astronauts will fly on first commercial spaceships

NASA to announce which astronauts will fly on first commercial spaceships

Since NASA retired its space shuttles, the agency has had to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its crews to the International Space Station. Boeing said earlier this week it would carry out a test flight of the Starliner vehicle without humans later this year or in early 2019, after it suffered an issue with the capsule's launch abort system during a test in New Mexico in June, according to SpaceNews.

By handing off crew and cargo runs to the space station - which will keep orbiting until at least 2024 - NASA has set its sight on the moon and Mars, developing the Orion capsule and the massive Space Launch System rocket.

He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space. SpaceX's manned test flight will feature two NASA astronauts. He flew on Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2008 with fellow Georgia Tech graduates Sandy Magnus and Shane Kimbrough.

This is an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to US soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.

The crews would fly on spacecraft developed not by NASA, but by two corporations, SpaceX and Boeing, which are under contract to provide a taxi-like service to the International Space Station.

Chris Ferguson and Marine Corps test pilot Nicole Mann, who will conduct the first Starliner flight test sometime in mid-2019. Nicole Aunapu Mann will be making her first flight; she completed her astronaut training in 2015.

NASA has been collaborating with commercial space companies for years, with the goal of having the private sector take over "routine" trips to the space station and low Earth orbit.

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Ferguson commanded the final mission of the space shuttle program, and Hurley was the pilot on that flight. She is a retired Navy captain and test pilot and was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1998.

The first Boeing Starliner mission to the ISS will be crewed by John Cassada, a NASA astronaut, physicist and Navy test pilot. He is a Navy commander, aviator and test pilot with nearly 3,000 hours flying more than 40 different aircraft.

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. The delays could even result in a gap in USA access to the space station, because NASA has contracted for seats on Soyuz only through November 2019, the report found.

"This is a big deal for our country and we want America to know that we are back, that we are flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said as he unveiled the crew members in Houston, Texas.

More astronauts will be announced to join the crews at a later date, NASA said. He's spent almost 29 days in space.

The demonstration flights by Boeing and SpaceX will spend a short period in orbit before coming straight back to Earth. He also serves as a Navy commander, naval aviator and was a test pilot. "It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the International Space Station".

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