Since 2011, the United States has relied on Russian Federation to ferry astronauts to the space station.
Once the Starliner and Dragon capsules are operational, NASA will no longer need to rely on Russia's Soyuz rocket and spacecraft to launch astronauts into low-Earth orbit. Some, however, deem that target ambitious.
"What an exciting and awesome day", Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, said at the announcement at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Behnken, Boe, Hurley and Williams were named in 2015 as NASA's "commercial crew cadre" and have been working with Boeing and SpaceX on the development of the spacecraft and the simulators that will be used to train astronauts to fly. "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. She's also spent 50 hours and 40 minutes on spacewalks, an accomplishment that is second on the list for female astronauts, according to her NASA biography.
"I'm just grateful to help usher in this new era of American spaceflight", Ferguson told the crowd.
"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. It will mark Mann's first trip to space. NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, an experienced spacewalker who flew on two shuttle missions, will strap into the Crew Dragon alongside former shuttle pilot Doug Hurley. Their mission is scheduled for April 2019.
Recent delays have pushed back the first flights of the Starliner and crewed Dragon to 2019, with uncrewed test flights hopefully happening in November for SpaceX or late this year, early next year for Boeing. He's spent almost 29 days in space.
On the first operational mission to the International Space Station, Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada would fly for Boeing. It will be Glover's first mission.
After announcing the crews, Bridenstine engaged in a largely lighthearted question-and-answer session with the selected astronauts, who expressed their delight in being selected and anticipation in flying on these next-generation vehicles. It has also been paying billions for cargo deliveries to the space station by SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.
It is critical that each of the avionics units is installed correctly, work as expected and communicate with each other and other components, including the Orion spacecraft and ground support systems.
The team consists of men and women from across America. Eric Boe, retired Navy Capt. But the agency is confident that the Boeing and SpaceX missions are moving toward completion - a sentiment underscored by today's announcement. He was chosen as an astronaut in 2000. He flew on a Space Shuttle Endeavour mission in 2008 and a Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 2011. Magnus earned her doctorate from Tech in 1996, in materials science and engineering.
"As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this", she added.
Chris Ferguson: A Philadelphia native, Ferguson served as a US Navy captain before he joined NASA in 1998. Ferguson, the Boeing astronaut, flew three shuttle missions, and has logged more than 40 days in space. Journey on one of the last shuttle missions to witness some final "firsts" made aboard this unique spacecraft. In a call with reporters this week, John Mulholland, Boeing's program manager, said that several of the valves failed to fully close, resulting in a propellant leak.
Robert Behnken is from St. Ann, Missouri.
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