NASA set to announce astronauts for SpaceX, Boeing missions

Mindy Sparks
August 3, 2018

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched on one of the company's Falcon 9 rockets, while Boeing's Starliner will hitch a lift on United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5.

NASA also announced the astronauts for the first missions, which will be long-duration and dock with the International Space Station.

Leading up to the a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the space agency, saying: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil". NASA and Boeing announced earlier this year they were studying it, but Mulholland said August 1 no decision would be made about using the test flight in that fashion until next year. Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the USA has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, launched from Kazakhstan, to get astronauts to the ISS. 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.

SpaceX did not give a reason for the delay of its first crewed test flight.

"SpaceX is targeting November 2018 for Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission and April 2019 for Crew Dragon's second demonstration mission, which will carry two NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station", said Benji Reed, director of Crew Mission Management at SpaceX, in the statement. The company said it has identified the root cause of that incident and will make both operational and technical changes to ensure the valves close properly in the future. That modification is meant to "optimize the program flow", said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and commercial crew program manager, noting that the abort system is not needed for the uncrewed flight test. Boeing and Space Adventures, the USA company that arranged space tourist flights on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, have a partnership that could allow paying passengers to ride in a fifth seat on CST-100 missions for shorter-duration missions.


Since the shuttle was retired seven years ago, American astronauts have had to fly on Russian rockets from a remote launch site in Kazakhstan.

"I really have no visibility into SpaceX progress or the fidelity of the SpaceX schedule", he said. "If NASA does not develop options for ensuring access to the ISS in the event of further Commercial Crew delays, it will not be able to ensure that the USA policy goal and objective for the ISS will be met", the report argued.

"NASA's Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to US soil, providing safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements", said the official blog. "Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts", explained NASA in the statement.

NASA is expected to announce the crew assignments for the first missions for Boeing and SpaceX this morning, according to a release from the agency.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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