NASA Taps Astronauts for Commercial Flights

NASA Taps Astronauts for Commercial Flights

Chris Ferguson: While Ferguson has been retired from NASA since 2011, he has worked with Boeing's Starliner program for years, earning him a key post on the first crewed test of the system. All but three of the astronauts are space flight veterans.

The CST-100 test flight will also include Christopher Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and current Boeing commercial astronaut.

June 2017: NASA had a record pool of 18,000 applicants to be an astronaut.

Currently, NASA can only send staff to the orbiting laboratory with Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. The partnership is governed by an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) signed by all the parties in 1998. NASA spends $3-4 billion a year to operate ISS. Ferguson is the only non-NASA astronaut. Instead, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama chose to terminate the space shuttle as soon as ISS construction was completed.

The new commercial capsules will replace NASA's space shuttle program, which last flew in 2011.

Several of the selected astronauts are shuttle program veterans. That is why in 2010 NASA started accepting proposals from commercial companies that were making astronaut transportation systems. Boeing is aiming for a test flight at the end of this year or early next, and the first crew flight in the middle of next year. "The ISS can not function without a US presence on board to maintain and operate integral systems". The first flight will be a test flight.

SpaceX said it would fly crews by April.

A white SpaceX launch suit and a blue Boeing launch suit stood on display behind the astronauts on stage. The tweet's second sentence seems to suggest that Boeing and SpaceX are paying the government to fly the missions.

Artist's illustration of CST-100 Starliner.

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In attendance for the announcement will be NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. Each operating their own timelines.

Now, SpaceX will launch its uncrewed test flight in November 2018, with the first crewed flight next spring.

The biographical information in this report was provided by NASA. Bridenstine mentioned two of them today.

- After a seven-year hiatus, American astronauts will once again go to space from the U.S. Therefore, it's essential that Crew Dragon and Starliner be ready for operational flights by the 2020 deadline.

NASA's deal with Russian Federation is due to run out at the end of the decade, and delays faced by SpaceX and Boeing have the firms bumping up close against deadlines.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, will fly together as SpaceX's first Crew Dragon crew. And NASA could not be more excited. The Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) prohibits NASA from making "extraordinary payments" to Russian Federation for anything associated with the ISS. Their contract with NASA did not require them to carry out such tests.

"Space Force!" he added, referencing a sixth branch of the military he has called for that would focus on defending U.S. interests.

NASA is just as thrilled as Boeing and SpaceX to launch a new era of partnership with commercial entities and flying commercial spacecraft, so long as it stays afloat. Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the National Space Council that has helped shape the Trump administration's space policies, also weighed in. "That's been a great partnership, we want to keep it".

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