Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Trump Hails Astronauts That Will Fly on SpaceX and Boeing Spaceships

First flights for Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules are delayed again NASA will name 1st astronauts to fly commercial spacecraft to International Space Station
Sandy Nunez | 05 August, 2018, 17:41

The first USA astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, waving after being announced, (left to right) Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Suni Williamson at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on August 3. The crew includes shuttle astronauts, crew members from the International Space Station and even some who have never flown out to space.

Crew Dragon, designed and built by Elon Musk's SpaceX, and the CST-100 Starliner, made by Boeing, are the two spacecraft being developed for NASA as part of its Commercial Crew Program. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space".

NASA on Thursday said it expects SpaceX to fly its first astronauts in April of 2019 and Boeing will follow, launching astronauts into space in the middle of next year.

In addition to naming the crews of the test flights, NASA also announced the four astronauts who will fly aboard the first operational Starliner and Dragon missions to the space station. He flew aboard three shuttle missions, including the program's final mission in 2011. John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's Commercial Crew effort, explained that the earliest the company can "confidently" do a manned flight test will be in mid-2019. They will mark the first astronaut launches from United States soil since the 2011 retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet.

Williams has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station since becoming an astronaut in 1998.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will be launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA is not yet certain exactly when the launches will be.

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.

Vintage JU-52 aircraft crashes in Swiss Alps
There are now no details on casualties but the Ju-52 can carry up to 17 passengers, two passengers and a flght attendant. The airspace above the crash site was closed by the country's Federal Office for Civil Aviation.

All nine astronauts have military experience, and most are seasoned veterans of space.

This will be the first trip into space for Mr. Glover, Mr. Cassada and Ms. Mann. "We're returning to a full-capability ascent abort system to keep astronauts safe all the way through the profile, and that's something that the shuttle didn't have".

Josh Cassada, 45, will fly with Sunita ("Suni") Williams, 52, aboard NASA's first contracted Starliner mission. "This is a test pilot's dream".

Now, SpaceX will launch its uncrewed test flight in November 2018, with the first crewed flight next spring.

Hopkins had previously spent 166 days on the International Space Station, and conducted two spacewalks. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009.

Glover, a former Navy commander and test pilot, was also among the 2013 astronaut class.

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.