NASA has recently announced the names of the astronauts that will become the crew members of upcoming SpaceX and Boeing commercial flights to the International Space Station. While the space agency has named five astronauts for the first two Boeing flights; they have assigned four astronauts for the upcoming SpaceX flights.
All those astronauts are a part of the Commercial Crew program of NASA. It is aimed at achieving the feat of once again launching the American astronauts to space from the American soil itself. Under this program, NASA has decided to join hands with private entities, such as Boeing and SpaceX. Since 2011, when the Space Shuttle program ended, American astronauts have only been launched to space aboard Russian Soyuz, which costs NASA over $70 million per seat.
Boeing will be launching its Starliner capsules and SpaceX its Dragon capsules as test flights.
Now, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has announced the names of those astronauts, who will be on board the first four Commercial Crew flights. Here is the list:
Bob Behnken has been assigned for a SpaceX test flight
This astronaut already has an experience of spaceflight, as he had flown to space riding the Space Shuttle Endeavor twice. He joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2000. Behnken is not only a flight test engineer; he is also a U.S. Air Force colonel.
Doug Hurley, assigned for a SpaceX test flight
Hurley also joined the astronaut corps of NASA in 2000. A former Marine Corps test pilot Hurley has already been the pilot of two space shuttles, one of which was 2011's last and final space shuttle mission.
These two astronauts are slated to fly to space aboard a Crew Dragon on the back of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in April 2019.
Victor Glover, assigned for the first SpaceX mission
A Navy commander and test pilot, Victor Glover was selected to be a NASA astronaut in 2013. SpaceX's Crew Dragon's upcoming mission is going to be his first trip to space.
Mike Hopkins, assigned for the first SpaceX mission
Hopkins was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2009. Previously, he worked as a flight test engineer and a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Hopkins has experience of flying on two space shuttle missions.
Nicole Mann, assigned for a Boeing test flight
Boeing's Starliner's first visit to space is going to be Mann's first trip to space as well. Previously, she test flew the F-18 fighter jets of Marine Corps before NASA selected her to be an astronaut in 2013.
Chris Ferguson, assigned for a Boeing test flight
Ferguson has been a pilot in one space shuttle as well as a commander in two. In this lot of astronaut, he is the only astronaut, who is not active in NASA. He had retired from the corps after the last flight of the shuttle.
Eric Boe, assigned for a Boeing test flight
Eric Boe has piloted two space shuttles. Before becoming a NASA astronaut in 2000, Boe was a U.S. Air Force colonel test pilot.
Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson, and Eric Boe are slated to be the crew members of Starliner, which is expected to be launched somewhere during the middle of next year. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is supposed to carry it off to space.
Sunita Williams, assigned for the First Boeing mission
Sunita Williams joined the American agency in 1998. She came to NASA as a Navy captain and test pilot. Williams has not only spent near-about a year in space; she has also completed seven spacewalks during that time.
Josh Cassada, assigned for the First Boeing mission
Josh Cassada was a U.S. Navy commander and test pilot before NASA selected him to be an astronaut in 2013. Cassada is slated to go on his first flight to space aboard a Boeing Starliner.