While SpaceX and Boeing are still working on their commercial capsule, improving or fixing last moment details, NASA has just announced in a special event on 3 August who will ride the capsule next year.
There will first be a test flight for each capsule without a crew – towards the International Space Station and back, planned to be finished by the end of this year or early next year. Then, the first crewed launch will be done in the next year’s spring or by next summer.
Friday, the astronauts for the first flights have been announced at an event held at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The following five astronauts will be on the first crewed test flight.
Boeing Starliner Crew
Chris Ferguson, former NASA astronaut and commander of NASA’s shuttle flight in 2011. He is now a Boeing employee.
Eric Boe was a NASA astronaut and space shuttle pilot.
Nicole Aunapu Mann was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2013, and this is her first space flight.
SpaceX Crew Dragon
Robert (Bob) Behnken is a NASA astronaut who has flown twice on the Endeavour.
Doug Hurley is a former space shuttle pilot and a NASA astronaut.
The first flight test with a crew on board will take place in April 2019, after the unmanned test (this November) is finished, announced NASA.
As for the CST-100 Starliner, the uncrewed test flight will happen at the end of this year, or early 2019, so this would mean that the manned test flight will be in mid-2019.
The crewed tests will include several objectives: astronauts can see the displays in the spacecraft, they will have to communicate with mission control and also perform manual controls while flying towards the ISS. Reaching the space station, the spacecraft will have to dock and undock on automatically and then take the crew back to Earth.
NASA will certify the companies for missions towards the ISS if the tests flights are successful.
At the same event, NASA has also announced the first astronauts that will ride for the long missions to the space station:
Boeing Starliner Mission
Josh Cassada, a NASA astronaut since 2013, who’s going to fly for the first time into space.
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who has commanded the space station and spent 322 days there.
Crew Dragon Mission
NASA astronaut Victor Glover who has been selected in 2013 and will be on his first flight.
Michael Hopkins, a NASA astronaut who has spent 166 days on the space station in the past, and who also went on two spacewalks.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.