USA to resume manned space flights

05 August, 2018, 01:59 | Author: Grady King
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The first astronauts to fly to the International Space Station aboard privately developed and built commercial spacecraft will be announced by NASA today.

One of those is SpaceX, Elon Musk's company, which will launch Crew Dragon, while the other is Boeing's Starliner project.

NASA paid seed money to SpaceX and Boeing to incentivize them to develop the crew capsules, picking up where the shuttle program left off. Both Boeing and SpaceX have issues to work out before they can complete their first crewed flights; the 2019 dates are targets and may be optimistic ones at that. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space". He is a retired Navy captain, who piloted space shuttle Atlantis for STS-115, and commanded shuttle Endeavour on STS-126 and Atlantis for the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program, STS-135.

United States astronauts have been relying on Russian capsules to travel to the space station, with each seat costing NASA as much as $82 million (€71 million).

He will be joined by Eric Boe, who flew on two shuttle missions and was another astronaut selected for commercial crew training in 2015, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, a member of the astronaut class of 2013 who will be making her first flight.

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Boeing and SpaceX, under contract with NASA, are competing in their own space race to launch capsules next year.

"As a test pilot it doesn't get any better than this", Mann told the audience, when asked about being the first to fly a new spacecraft.

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. Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams will crew the Starliner's first mission, while Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly aboard the Crew Dragon first mission.

If those flights are successful, the companies will be certified by NASA for crew rotation missions.

Today's crew announcement for the SpaceX and Boeing test flights is a major step for NASA's push to restore American crewed access to space from USA soil. The first operational SpaceX Crew will be veteran astronaut Mike Hopkins and first-time flyer Victor Glover.

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

"We're flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said during the presentation ceremony at the Johnson Space Center of Houston.

The first flight is expected sometime next year. 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. Since the final shuttle mission ended, NASA has paid Russian Federation about $70 million per seat to carry astronauts to and from ISS.

Crew for each flight will include at least a flight commander and a pilot.

"The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot, you know, and you don't think it's ever going to happen to you", Hurley said. Ms. Williams previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station, most recently returning to the Earth in 2012.

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