NASA set to announce astronauts for SpaceX, Boeing missions

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

The test flights and missions aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, slated for as early as April 2019, will "begin a new era in America spaceflight", the US space agency said.

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.

NASA's schedule for Starliner flights confirmed what a Boeing executive said a day earlier: The first uncrewed mission to the station (Boeing Orbital Flight Test) would take place in late 2018 or early 2019, and the first crewed mission (Boeing Crew Flight Test) would follow five to six months later. NASA is working with Space X and Boeing to develop the spacecraft. However, a NASA spokesman said that does not guarantee those four astronauts will be assigned to an actual mission.

During the press announcement of the new astronaut assignments, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked two veteran astronauts to compare their new rides to the shuttles they flew more than seven years ago.

The successful flight marked the scheduled end of the 30-year space shuttle program.

NASA is about to name the first astronauts ever to fly commercial spaceships.

Williams has already taken two trips to the space station, commanded it, and racked up 322 days in space, second on the all-time list for female astronauts.

The eight active Nasa astronauts and one former astronaut-turned-corporate crew member will launch on Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Dragoncapsules to the International Space Station beginning in 2019.

These three astronauts are responsible for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew. Mann was selected as an astronaut 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.

Josh Cassada, 45, will fly with Sunita ("Suni") Williams, 52, aboard Nasa's first contracted Starliner mission. "We had our quarterly [review] this week, and for the first time in years, it felt real". While both companies had recently said they would conduct their first test flights with astronauts on board by the end of this year, those flights are now scheduled for 2019. "Falcon 9's first and second stages for the Demo-1 mission are targeted to ship from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California to the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas for additional testing in August", NASA said.

NASA awaits the completion of both companies' test flights before certifying either safe for use to return astronauts on low-Earth-orbit missions.

SpaceX's Post-Certification Mission for the Crew Dragon Team Victor Glover (left) and Mike Hopkins (right). "This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight".

The Starliner will launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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".

The contracts for travel to the International Space Station were awarded in 2014.

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