Meet the First Astronauts to Fly Commercial U.S. Spacecraft

From left: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, Suni Williams

Today, NASA announced the astronauts who will launch aboard new American-made spacecraft and rocket systems, the first human launches from the United States since 2011. Nine U.S. astronauts, eight NASA and one from Boeing, were assigned to the first test flights and operational missions for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The astronaut assignments are:

This public-private partnership marks the beginning of a new era of human spaceflight. NASA has worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX as the companies design, develop, and test their systems to ensure safe, reliable and cost-effective commercial transportation for astronauts to low-Earth orbit. This will be an unprecedented achievement for the commercial space industry, and will allow NASA to focus on deep space exploration with NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, as we return humans to the Moon and on to Mars.

Ask the Crew Your Questions

From left: Suni Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover

This morning at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, nine astronauts were assigned to four Commercial Crew flights aboard Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft.

Boeing’s crew flight test aboard its Starliner spacecraft, which is targeted to launch in mid-2019, will have Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson and Nicole Mann on board. Boeing’s first post-certification mission will have Josh Cassada and Suni Williams aboard.

SpaceX’s demo mission 2 aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft, which is targeted to launch in April 2019, will have Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. The first post-certification mission will be crewed by Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins.

Do you have questions for our elite astronauts? They will take your questions during a Reddit Ask Me Anything at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, at https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/.

Meet the Astronauts Assigned to SpaceX’s First Mission

 

From left: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins

These two NASA astronauts will launch to the International Space Station for a long-duration mission aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

The crew:

Victor Glover is from Pomona, California. He is Navy commander, Naval aviator and test pilot with almost 3,000 hours flying in more than 40 different aircraft, 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions. He was selected as part of the 2013 astronaut candidate class, and this his will be his first spaceflight.

Mike Hopkins was born in Lebanon, Missouri, and grew up on a farm near Richland, Missouri. He is a Colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. He’s spent 166 days on the International Space Station for Expeditions 37 and 38, and conducted two spacewalks.

Meet the Astronauts Assigned to Boeing’s First Mission

From left: Josh Cassada, Suni Williams

These two NASA astronauts will launch to the International Space Station for a long-duration mission aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Statliner atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The crew:

Josh Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. He is a Navy Commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft. He was selected as an astronaut in 2013. This will be his first spaceflight.

Suni Williams was born in Euclid, Ohio, but her hometown is Needham, Massachusetts. Suni came to NASA from the Navy, where she was a test pilot and rose to the rank of Captain. Since being selected as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days in space, commanded the International Space Station and performed seven spacewalks.

Meet the Astronauts Flying SpaceX’s Demo-2

From: Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley

Targeted to launch in April 2019 aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The crew:

Bob Behnken is from St. Ann, Missouri. He has a doctorate in engineering, is a flight test engineer, and Colonel in the Air Force. He joined the astronaut corps in 2000, and flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour twice – for the STS-123 and STS-130 missions, during which he performed six spacewalks, for a total of more than 37 hours.

Doug Hurley calls Apalachin, New York, his hometown. He was a test pilot in the Marine Corps before coming to NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut. He achieved the rank of Colonel in the Marine Corps and piloted space shuttle Endeavor for STS-127, and Atlantis for STS-135 – the final space shuttle mission.

 

Meet the Astronauts Flying Boeing’s Crew Flight Test

From left: Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson

Targeted to launch in mid-2019 aboard a Starliner spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The crew:

Eric Boe was born in Miami but grew up in Atlanta. He came to NASA from the Air Force, where he was a fighter pilot and test pilot and rose to the rank of Colonel. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000, and piloted space shuttle Endeavour for the STS-126 mission, and Discovery on its final flight, STS-133.

Chris Ferguson is a native of Philadelphia. He is a retired Navy captain, who piloted space shuttle Atlantis for STS-115, and commanded shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis on STS-126 and STS-135 – the final flight of the space shuttle program. He retired from NASA in 2011, and has been an integral part of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner program.

Nicole Aunapu Mann is a California native and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps.  She is an F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours in over 25 aircraft. She was selected as an astronaut in 2013, and this will be her first trip to space.

The Commercial Crew Strategy

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems designed to carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit. The Starliner and Crew Dragon will launch American astronauts on American-made spacecraft from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time since NASA retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Commercial transportation to and from the space station will enable expanded station use, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory. The station is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight, and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and missions deeper into the solar system, including Mars.

Crew Flight Assignments Announcement on NASA TV at 11 a.m. Eastern

This morning at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, NASA will announce the astronauts who will be assigned to four commercial crew flights aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will preside over the event, which will begin at 11 a.m. EDT on NASA Television.

Following the announcement, the astronauts will participate in a Reddit Ask Me Anything at 12:30 p.m. at: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/

SpaceX Completes Parachute System Test

SpaceX Parachute TestIn case you missed it, SpaceX recently completed its 16th parachute system test for the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

SpaceX conducted the test at Naval Air Facility El Centro in Southern California, deploying parachutes to slow the spacecraft for a safe landing in the desert. Crew Dragon is designed for water landings in a nominal scenario, but the test demonstrated the system’s ability to land the spacecraft safely in the unlikely event of a low altitude abort.

Spacewalkers Complete HD Camera Installation

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the sixth spacewalk at the International Space Station this year at 2:55 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 49 minutes. The two astronauts installed new high-definition cameras that will provide enhanced views during the final phase of approach and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft that will soon begin launching from American soil.

They also swapped a camera assembly on the starboard truss of the station, closed an aperture door on an external environmental imaging experiment outside the Japanese Kibo module, and completed two additional tasks to relocate a grapple bar to aid future spacewalkers and secured some gear associated with a spare cooling unit housed on the station’s truss.