NASA introduced the nine U.S. astronauts who will fly on commercial Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft on Friday. The crews will be the first to venture into the final frontier from Florida on American-made ships since 2011.
“Space has transformed the American way of life,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said at the event. “For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.”
The astronauts were divided into smaller crews assigned to work on test flights and first missions to the international space station.
“The men and women we assign to these first flights are at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight,” NASA’s Johnson Space Center Director Mark Greyer said in a statement, “It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can’t wait to see them aboard the International Space Station.”
Eric Boe, Christopher Ferguson and Nicole Anapu Mann will work for Boeing’s Starliner test flight while Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams will fly on the craft’s first mission.
Space X’s Dragon will be tested by Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, and Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will be on the crew for that mission.
This will be the first trip into space for Mr. Glover, Mr. Cassada and Ms. Mann.
The commercial crews are a public-private effort between NASA, Boeing and SpaceX.
NASA launched their last space shuttle mission in July 2011. American astronauts continue to travel to the international space station, but have relied on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get there. Russian rockets were the only crafts carrying people to the station in June 2018, but now the American ships will join them.
“With a merging of technology and tears, the final chapter in the 30-year history of space shuttle flights has been written,” NASA’s Cheryl Mansfield wrote of the 2011 mission.