Williams is among a group of nine people who will begin riding the first commercial space capsules into orbit next year, bringing astronaut launches back to the United States for the first time since the space shuttle retired in 2011. NASA retired its space shuttle fleet that year, and started sending astronauts to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost of $81 million (U.S.) per seat.
The astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon give a thumbs-up upon introduction at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Aug. 3, 2018.
"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. He, too, has a history on the space shuttle: Ferguson piloted Atlantis for STS-115, was the commander of Endeavour on STS-126, and Atlantis for STS-135, the final space shuttle mission.
Ferguson noted he's been involved with the Boeing capsule since the beginning.
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Doug Hurley is a former space shuttle pilot and a NASA astronaut. Glover was selected by NASA in 2013, and his mission with SpaceX will mark his first time in space.
"It's absolutely the opportunity of a lifetime", said Mann.
America, meet your new astronauts. The launch planned for sometime in 2019 is to be the vessel's first manned flight and, once proven successful, the Starliner is to be taken by a different crew to an operational mission to the space station, according to a report by Georgia Tech. "I look forward, sir, to getting you down there at some point out in Hawthorne [SpaceX's California headquarters] and maybe you can sit next to us in the cockpit and go through flying the iPhone to dock to space station". "We take it seriously". They we will crew the first test flights, and then missions involving both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.
Boeing's Starliner mission will include Chris Ferguson, a Boeing astronaut who, while previously working for NASA, served as commander of two NASA flights. Journey on one of the last shuttle missions to witness some final "firsts" made aboard this unique spacecraft. Boeing most recently suffered a problem while testing its emergency abort system and its first test flight won't be until at least mid-2019.
The nine astronauts, most with previous experience in orbit, will ride the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner capsules to the International Space Station. "That's going to help all of us understand how to live and work in space". "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. Other astronauts that will join are Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, as SpaceX's first Dragon crew. She's no stranger to high-speed flight, however, being an F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours across over 25 aircraft. Since her selection as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks.