NASA Introduces 9 Astronauts to Lead US Back to Orbit on Boeing, SpaceX Commercial Flights from US Soil! Including Last Shuttle Commander

NASA introduced to the
world on Aug. 3, 2018, the first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made,
commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station (ISS).  The agency assigned nine astronauts to crew
the first test flight and mission of both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The astronauts are, from left to right: Sunita Williams,
Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley,
Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover.  Credits: NASA
Ken Kremer 
  
SpaceUpClose.com     3 Aug 2018


CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – After
years of painstaking research and development effort, hard work and much waiting
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at last introduced to the world the 9
astronauts who will lead the US back to orbit from US soil on US spaceships by launching
on the inaugural commercial crew missions on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and
SpaceX Crew Dragon on critically important missions to the International Space
Station (ISS) – at a rousing assembly at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston,
today, Friday, Aug. 3.



“Today, our country’s dreams of greater
achievements in space are within our grasp,” said NASA Administrator Jim
Bridenstine. 



“We are on the brink of launching American
astronauts on American rockets from American soil.”



“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. Today’s announcement
advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation’s leadership in
space.”



The 9 astronauts named today will fly on the first two
missions each from Starliner and Crew Dragon and includes a mix of spaceflight
veterans – including the last Shuttle Commander of the STS-135 mission launched
in July 2011- as well as 3 rookies.





The first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, wave after being announced, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The astronauts are, from left to right: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Suni Williams. The agency assigned the nine astronauts to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) 





The veteran astronauts are STS-135 Shuttle Commander Christopher Ferguson
who will fly as a Boeing Test Pilot, STS-135 Pilot Douglas Hurley, Sunita
Williams, Eric Boe, Robert Behnken and Michael Hopkins.



The
rookies are Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Victor Glover – all selected from
the 2013 class of NASA astronauts. 

NASA’s Commercial Crew
Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop a
new generation of spacecraft and launch systems to carry crews safely to and
from low-Earth orbit – the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner. Credits: NASA

The Commercial Crew Program
(CCP) funded by NASA is –
“An endeavor that will return astronaut
launches to U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement
in 2011.” 



The exciting roll call announcements of each astronaut
was made to thunderous applause in the JSC auditorium packed to the gills with hundreds
of NASA employees, family members, media as well as several of the political
leaders who help make the key decisions on NASA’s funding by the US Federal
Government – without which none of this would happen.



The crew naming event was broadcast live on NASA TV and the
agency’s website.

“This is a great day,” said Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.


“The
men and women we assign to these first flights are at the forefront of this
exciting new time for human spaceflight,”. “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.” 



The crews named will fly on the first four missions – two each
from Boeing and SpaceX.



The two spacecraft –
also dubbed ‘Space Taxis’ – will launch American and partner astronauts to low
Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) – thereby ending NASA’s
total 100% reliance on the Russians for rides to the orbiting research
laboratory.



The crew assignments
pertain both to the first test flights as well as the first post-certification
missions for each spacecraft. 



Additional crew
members will likely be added later to the inaugural post certification missions
from each. 



Former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson who also
served as the final Shuttle Commander during the STS-135 mission to the ISS will
represent Boeing on the first Starliner test flight mission.



Ferguson is a spaceflight veteran who has flown
3 times to space on NASA’s shuttles will fly in his role as a Boeing Test Pilot
and leader of the Starliner development team which is being manufactured
in the company’s modernized Commercial Crew
and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center,
that former served as the shuttle’s Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF).



Hull of the Boeing
CST-100 Starliner Structural Test Article (STA)- the first Starliner to be
built in the company’s modernized Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility
high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The 1st Boeing flight includes a crew
of three with Ferguson being joined by 2 NASA astronauts. The 3rd crew member
was recently added – per my earlier story- to help NASA maintain a full
complement of crew members on the US station segment as the last Soyuz seats
paid for by NASA run out in mid-2019.



Boeing CST-100 Starliner will launch atop a
United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station, FL



The 1st SpaceX flight numbers just 2
NASA astronauts. 




The Boeing CST-100 Starliner (l) and SpaceX
Crew Dragon (r) currently being manufactured for their respective
 inaugural launches
to the ISS. Credit: NASA/Boeing/SpaceX


The SpaceX Crew Dragon as well as
the Boeing Starliner capsules are both being developed under multi-year,
multi-Billion Dollar contracts with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) that
began in 2010 and were awarded back in September 2014 worth 6.8 $Billion. 

Like the Cargo Dragon, the Crew
Dragon will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 but in contrast to the initial cargo
version will utilize the most recent Block 5 upgrade variant.

Both vehicles have also suffered
repeated postponements to their maiden launch schedules.

Until this week, NASA
said the crewed flight would take place by the end of 2018 for both firms.
Those dates have now been adjusted to mid-2019 for both firms.

Following the forced
retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program in July 2011 that can be directly
traced back to a lack of funding from both political parties in Congress every
American astronaut since than has had to fly to space on Russian Soyuz
capsules.

The current cost is
$80 million per Soyuz seat.

“NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is
working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a
new generation of spacecraft and launch systems designed to carry crews safely
to and from low-Earth orbit. The Starliner and Crew Dragon will
launch American astronauts on American-made spacecraft from
American soil to the International
Space Station
 for the first time since NASA retired its Space
Shuttle Program in 2011.”

“Commercial transportation to and from the space
station will enable expanded station use, additional research time and
broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory. The station
is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration
spaceflight, and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and missions
deeper into the solar system, including Mars.”

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA,
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct
from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and
Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.


Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human
spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com
–www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Boeing ‘Starliner’ commercial crew space taxi manufacturing
facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Exterior view depicts mural for the
Boeing Company’s CST-100 ‘Starliner’ commercial crew transportation spacecraft at
the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s
Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

………….

Ken’s upcoming outreach events/photos for
sale:

Learn more about the upcoming upcoming/recent
SpaceX Merah Putih & Telstar 19 launches,
NASA/ULA Parker Solar Probe, SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-15 launch to ISS,  SES-12 comsat
launch, Falcon Heavy, TESS, GOES-S, Bangabandhu-1, NASA
missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches, SpySats and more at Ken’s upcoming
outreach events at Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings:

Aug
4-6
: “SpaceX Telstar 19
& Merah Putih Launches, NASA/ULA Parker Solar Probe SpaceX Dragon CRS-15
resupply launch to ISS, SpaceX Falcon Heavy & Falcon 9 launches, SpaceX
SES-12 comsat. ULA Atlas USAF SBIRS GEO 4 missile warning satellite, SpaceX
GovSat-1, CRS-14 resupply launches to the ISS, NRO & USAF Spysats, SLS,
Orion, Boeing and SpaceX Commercial crew capsules, OSIRIS-Rex, Juno at Jupiter,
InSight Mars lander, Curiosity and Opportunity explore Mars, NH at Pluto and
more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings. Photos for sale




Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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