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 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/

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Target Test Flight Dates

*NASA, Boeing and SpaceX provided an update on Oct. 4, 2018. For the details on the flight tests and the latest schedule, visit https://go.nasa.gov/2QuP7F1.

The next generation of American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil, providing safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements. To meet NASA’s requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station. Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demo-1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions. The following schedule reflects the most recent publicly releasable dates for both providers.

Targeted Test Flight Dates:
Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): late 2018 / early 2019
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): mid-2019
SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): November 2018
SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): April 2019

Astronaut Crew Quarters Upgraded

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is actively preparing for a return to human spaceflight, with Boeing and SpaceX uncrewed flight tests, followed by crew flight tests and missions.

When our astronauts arrive before their missions, they will spend eight to nine days quarantined in astronaut crew quarters. The crew quarters occupies about 26,000 square feet of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy. Access is restricted to this area, which features 23 bedrooms — each with a bathroom — and the iconic suit room, where astronauts are helped into their pressure suits moments before boarding a vehicle to take them to the pad for launch.

A significant, recently completed upgrade will await the commercial crew astronauts when they arrive at Kennedy. There are new carpets and ceiling tiles, and fresh paint on the walls. Appliances all have been replaced, as has the audio/visual teleconference system in both conference rooms. The suit room, last used in an official capacity in July 2011 for STS-135, the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program, has been reactivated and remodeled. The area is furnished with new recliners and tables, and there are now three suit containment rooms — one each for Orion, Boeing and SpaceX.

Learn more about the upgrades to crew quarters here: https://go.nasa.gov/2OyFmp0

NASA, Commercial Partners Progress to Human Spaceflight Home Stretch

NASA and commercial industry partners Boeing and SpaceX are making significant advances in preparing to launch our astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.  Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from 2018 to this point.

On the International Space Station, the crew aboard continues preparations for new visiting spacecraft.  In June, astronauts installed a high-definition camera to assist with the docking of Boeing and SpaceX’s capsules as they approach for docking.

Meanwhile, on the ground, significant progress continues to take place for Boeing and SpaceX in final preparations for flight testing.  Both companies have several spacecraft and rockets in various stages of production. Teams have practiced interfacing with the spacecraft, and rehearsed launch countdown and landing procedures, as well as emergency scenarios both at the launch pad and in flight.

With the upcoming flights to begin from Boeing and SpaceX, final rounds of crew and mission support practice, qualification tests, and simulations of multiple mission scenarios, serve to bring us on the doorstep of America’s next great chapter in space flight.

Learn more about the exciting work that both companies have done thus far in 2018, at https://go.nasa.gov/2LH1K17

Atlas V Prepped for Flight Tests

United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V dual engine Centaur (ULA) Crew Flight Test dual engine, at left, and the Orbital Flight test dual engine, at right, for the Centaur stage of the Atlas V rocket are in production on June 11, 2018, at ULA’s factory in Decatur, Alabama. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner will launch on its first uncrewed flight test on the ULA Atlas V rocket. The Starliner is being developed and manufactured in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to return human spaceflight capabilities to the U.S.

 

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.

Commercial Crew Program Simulates Astronaut Rescue Missions

A C-17 Globemaster aircraft from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 249th Airlift Squadron flies overhead as pararescue specialists from the 304th Rescue Squadron, located in Portland, Oregon complete an astronaut rescue training exercise inside a covered life raft on the Atlantic Ocean. The pararescue specialists, supporting the 45th Operations Group’s Detachment 3, based out of Patrick Air Force Base, conducted the exercise in April with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX off of Florida’s eastern coast. The specially designed 20-person life raft is equipped with enough food, water and medical supplies to sustain both rescuers and crew for up to three days, if necessary.

As NASA, Boeing and SpaceX prepare for commercial human spaceflight launches, they are training for a variety of contingencies, including emergency water landings. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Landing and Recovery Team is leading a multi-agency operation to practice astronaut rescue missions.

Rescue and recovery involves meticulous planning and close coordination between NASA, the Department of Defense (DOD), and company recovery teams for Starliner and Crew Dragon. These are the spacecraft of Boeing and SpaceX that will fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station from U.S. soil. In the event of a variety of contingency landings, an elite team of pararescue specialists is prepared to rescue the crew anywhere in the world.

For more details, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/rescue-operations-take-shape-for-commercial-crew-program-astronauts