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These Astronauts Will Fly SpaceX, Boeing Spacecraft to the ISS

05 August 2018

The astronauts will fly Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon. And finally, the second SpaceX demo flight will be crewed by Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

Chris Ferguson: A Philadelphia native, Ferguson served as a US Navy captain before he joined NASA in 1998. "Our commitment has always been to provide NASA and those crews the highest level of mission assurance", he said in the statement.

American astronauts haven't launched from the USA since 2011, and the first commercial company to make that happen first will undoubtedly receive accolades.

Both vehicles are capable of reaching the ISS autonomously, and will do so and return to Earth before humans climb aboard. 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. Many spacecraft, including Crew Dragon and Starliner, use hypergolic propellant for abort engines because it ignites on contact and is a good choice for quickly blasting a crew capsule away from a failing rocket. But that same propellant can be deadly to humans if not stored carefully. He has since worked with Boeing to develop and test the Starliner spacecraft.

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The SpaceX crewed test flight, now scheduled for April 2019, will be flown by NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

For the past seven years, NASA astronauts have hitched rides to the orbiting outpost on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft - at a cost of some $80 million a seat. Williams has already spent more than 300 days in space.

That system will likely fly some time early next decade.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule, on current timelines, is set to make its maiden crewed flight in April. Behnken, Boe and Hurley have each flown two shuttle missions, logging four weeks in space apiece. These missions mostly include veterans from the Space Shuttle program, though it will be Aunapu Mann and Cassada's first trips to space.

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Trump's Twitter praise for the astronauts did appear to gloss over the fact that NASA is actually paying SpaceX and Boeing to fly American astronauts. The 1997 electrical engineering master's recipient has been selected by NASA to fly aboard Boeing's first commercial crew flight test, which is expected to lift off from Florida in the middle of 2019. The agency has contracted six missions, with as many as four astronauts per mission, for each company. It'll be his first spaceflight, though he has a wide range of experience with combat missions and testing aircraft. Hopkins was a member of Expedition 37 and 38 in 2013 and 2014.

Josh Cassada: Coming to NASA after a career as a test pilot in the Navy, Cassada was chosen as an astronaut in 2013. She has spent 322 days in orbit during two missions to the space station.

The Government Accountability Office recently issued a warning to NASA that it needs to have a contingency plan in place to ensure continued access to the space station, which costs the U.S. about $3 billion annually.

Nasa took the decision after the shuttle retired to turn transportation to low-Earth obit destinations into a service that it could buy.

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These Astronauts Will Fly SpaceX, Boeing Spacecraft to the ISS