Sunita Williams, 8 others to fly on Boeing, SpaceX spacecraft

Leading up to the ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the agency: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil".

The first US astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, waving after being announced, (left to right) Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Suni Williamson at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on August 3.

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.

(AP) In addition to naming the crews of the test flights, Nasa also announced today the four astronauts who will fly aboard the first operational Starliner and Dragon missions to the space station.

The SpaceX crewed test flight, now scheduled for April 2019, will be flown by NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon space capsule, which will make a trial trip attached to a Falcon rocket launched from Florida, will have a crew of two: Doug Hurley, who piloted both the Endeavor and the Atlantis, and Bob Behnken, who has six space trips on his resume.

Nine astronauts have new travel plans aboard commercial space capsules, with their mission assignments announced earlier today (Aug. 3).

The missions are expected to take the astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Although there has been talk of turning the International Space Station over to commercial parties upon the end of it's projected service life in 2025, a recent audit of that strategy carried out and released by NASA's Office of the Inspector General seems to indicate that such an extension of the ISS lifespan is unlikely. The Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

NASA/Kennedy Space Center (via Flickr); Boeing; Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn illustration of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft (left) and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft (right).

"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a statement.

Four of the eight astronauts will nearly certainly be Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley, and Sunita "Suni" Williams.

Josh Cassada, 45, will fly with Sunita ("Suni") Williams, 52, aboard Nasa's first contracted Starliner mission. This will be her first trip to space.

Victor Glover: Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 after a career in the Navy as a test pilot.

A few months ago, both companies had hoped to start flying people by the end of this year.

SpaceX said it would fly crews by April.

Victor Glover, 42, and Michael Hopkins, 49, will fly on the first operational mission of SpaceX's crewed Dragon. Sometimes called the "Commercial Crew Cadre", those astronauts are seasoned veterans who've worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX on their new spacecraft and systems over the past three years. However, at the announcement companies sounded more confident in those revised schedules.

  • Essie Rivera