Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams set to create a new milestone

Starliner and Crew Dragon

NASA released new schedules Aug. 2 for test flights by Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Credit Boeing SpaceX

This will be the first space shuttle launches from the USA since it retired its space shuttle in 2011.

"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

Crewed test flights will likely occur next spring, with Chris Ferguson, a Boeing vice president who was the commander of the last shuttle mission, Eric Boe, a former shuttle pilot, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, a former Navy pilot who will be making her first space flight, onboard the Boeing CST-100 Starliner.

Ferguson will fly with NASA astronauts Eric Boe, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, and Nicole Aunapu Mann on the first crewed test flight of Starliner, which is now projected to take place in mid-2019.

The space agency's priority is safe, reliable and cost-effective travel to low-Earth orbit and back (at least for now) for the crewed flight tests called Demo-1 by SpaceX and Orbital Flight Test by Boeing. Both have been in the astronaut corps since 2000; combined, the duo has four Space Shuttle missions and more than 58 days of spaceflight between them. He has logged more than 40 days in space across three space shuttle missions.

Bridenstine also introduced the crews of the first missions to the International Space Station by each new craft, which will follow the test flights. Boeing's spacecraft CST-100 Starliner is also expected to be reusable and will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

NASA is now assigning crew members to these test missions, and will work with both companies and the Eastern range to clear launch dates that will allow all science investigations and other operations on the ISS will not be interrupted.

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Mr. Behnken, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Boe and Ms. Mann are NASA's first astronauts to be named to the test flights of new USA spacecraft since the March 1978 announcement of the space shuttle's first orbital flight test crews. These test flights will provide invaluable data on how rockets, ground systems, operations and the spacecraft themselves perform. Once the spacecraft is attached to the space station, it's created to stay there for 210 days. SpaceX aims to launch an uncrewed test flight in November of this year, with a Boeing test flight scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019.

Then, in July 2015, NASA offered another nugget: Four of its astronauts had been tapped to start training on SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner. The spacecraft will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before flying their crew back to Earth.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule, on current timelines, is set to make its maiden crewed flight in April.

NASA contracted both companies to shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station following the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011.

The Government Accountability Office said in a recent report that Boeing's spacecraft could "tumble" in some abort scenarios, which "could pose a threat to the crew's safety".

SpaceX's Crew Dragon will launch on the company's Falcon 9 rocket. The public-private partnerships fostered by the program will stimulate growth in a robust commercial space industry and spark life-changing innovations for future generations.

The seven men and two women pumped their fists in the air and gave thumbs ups as they strode onto the stage to cheers from the crowd. "We won't let you down".

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