MEET NASA’S NEW COM­MER­CIAL CREW

The first-ever se­lec­tion of as­tro­nauts that will test the ex­plo­ration ca­pa­bil­i­ties of SpaceX and Boe­ing has now been an­nounced

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On Fri­day 3 Au­gust 2018 a huge step was made in in­cor­po­rat­ing pri­vately funded or­gan­i­sa­tions into gov­ern­ment-led space ex­plo­ration mis­sions. NASA an­nounced the first-ever ‘Com­mer­cial Crew’ that will test both Boe­ing’s CST-100 Star­liner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon mis­sions. Th­ese com­mer­cial space­craft will take as­tro­nauts to and from low-Earth or­bit and the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion (ISS).

“To­day, our coun­try’s dreams of greater achieve­ments in space are within our grasp,” NASA ad­min­is­tra­tor Jim Bri­den­s­tine said on the day of the an­nounce­ment. “This ac­com­plished group of Amer­i­can as­tro­nauts, fly­ing on new space­craft de­vel­oped by our com­mer­cial part­ners Boe­ing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of hu­man space­flight. To­day’s an­nounce­ment ad­vances our great Amer­i­can vi­sion and strength­ens the na­tion’s lead­er­ship in space.”

NASA has worked closely with th­ese com­pa­nies in the past, hav­ing had much co­op­er­a­tion with

Elon Musk’s SpaceX in re­sup­ply mis­sions to the

ISS. Al­though there hasn’t been the same level in team­work with Boe­ing, all com­pa­nies have worked closely to­gether to en­sure that any de­sign reaches the high stan­dards of NASA.

Nine as­tro­nauts have been se­lected for four mis­sions, with two and three as­tro­nauts on the Crew Dragon test flight and the Star­liner test flight mis­sions re­spec­tively, and a fur­ther two as­tro­nauts a piece on the first ac­tual mis­sions of the com­mer­cial space­craft. All of th­ese as­tro­nauts are held in very high es­teem, and all but two have ex­pe­ri­enced space­flight pre­vi­ously.

Af­ter the five as­tro­nauts have suc­cess­fully un­der­gone test flights for the two space­craft,

NASA can give its stamp of ap­proval and al­low the space­craft and sys­tems on fur­ther mis­sions to the Space Sta­tion. NASA has awarded con­tracts for six mis­sions to each of the com­pa­nies, and they also del­e­gated four as­tro­nauts per mis­sion. Af­ter this, NASA will an­nounce any ad­di­tional as­tro­nauts af­ter li­aisons with their in­ter­na­tional part­ners in the name of con­sis­tent in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion.

“The men and women we as­sign to th­ese first flights are at the fore­front of this ex­cit­ing new time for hu­man space­flight,” says Mark Geyer, direc­tor of NASA’s John­son Space Cen­ter in Hous­ton,

Texas, United States. “It will be thrilling to see our as­tro­nauts lift off from Amer­i­can soil, and we can’t wait to see them aboard the ISS.”

Su­nita Wil­liamsStar­liner first mis­sion as­tro­naut Pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes spend­ing a to­tal of 222 days aboard the ISS for Ex­pe­di­tions 14/15 and 32/33, com­mand­ing it in the process. Josh Cas­sada Star­liner first mis­sion as­tro­nautThis will be his first flight, hav­ing been se­lected for as­tro­naut duty in 2013 af­ter more than 3,500 flight hours as a test pi­lot and Navy com­man­der. Eric BoeStar­liner test flight as­tro­nautSince be­ing se­lected as an as­tro­naut in 2000, pi­loted the Space Shut­tle En­deav­our for STS-126 and Dis­cov­ery’s fi­nal flight as part of STS-133. Ni­cole Au­napu MannStar­liner test flight as­tro­nautMann was se­lected as an as­tro­naut com­par­a­tively re­cently in 2013, and also holds the ti­tle of lieu­tenant colonel in the Ma­rine Corps.

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