Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

NASA to announce new astronaut class on Friday

The former Yellow Jacket has been working with both companies since 2015, developing and testing spacecraft that will eventually launch Americans into space from USA soil for the first time since the shuttle program ended in 2011.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know we're back".

Their successful test flight will pave the way for two different astronauts to take the Starliner to the International Space Station for Boeing's first operational mission at a later date. 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.

The missions will mark the first crewed launches from USA soil since the end of the space shuttle programme seven years ago.

In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office said that further delays in NASA's "Commercial Crew" program could "disrupt access" to the space station, which would be an enormous embarrassment for NASA after investing about $100 billion to build and operate it.

With these launches the United States will recover its prominence in the space race after seven years of depending on Russian infrastructure to send its astronauts into space.

NASA/Kennedy Space Center (via Flickr); Boeing; Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn illustration of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft (left) and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft (right). "The result is that we'll have a better and safer spacecraft", he said. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by the middle of next year.

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"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a statement. SpaceX is targeting November for its inaugural Crew Dragon test flight, but Boeing won't launch its passenger spacecraft Starliner until late this year or early next. Boeing most recently suffered a problem while testing its emergency abort system and its first test flight has been delayed until at least mid-2019.

The nine individuals will go up on systems developed by - and contracted from - the Boeing and SpaceX firms.

SpaceXNASA astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams tests mock-ups of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship and spacesuit. His second flight as a pilot was the final scheduled flight of the Discovery - the third-to-last flight of the NASA Space Shuttle Program.

It's been a long journey for NASA and its commercial partners to get both crew capsules up and running.

SpaceX later confirmed a successful splashdown, concluding the company's 15th resupply mission to the space station under the space transport company's more than $3 billion, 20-launch cargo contract with NASA. 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.

Four of the five astronauts named to the first Crew Dragon and Starliner flights are spaceflight veterans. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014. It will ride atop a Falcon-9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before flying their crew back to Earth.

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