NASA announces astronauts for first commercial spaceflights from U.S.

NASA introduced the nine USA astronauts who will fly on commercial Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft on Friday.

NASA has named the astronauts chosen to fly on commercial spacecraft made by Boeing and SpaceX to and from the International Space Station, the research laboratory that orbits around Earth.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know we're back".

On Friday, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine introduced the nine astronauts, who will fly on the first four crewed missions using the new craft.

SpaceX and Boeing are shooting for a test flight of their capsules to the International Space Station by the end of this year or early next, with the first crews flying from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by next spring or summer. He will be joined by Eric Boe, who flew on two shuttle missions and was another astronaut selected for commercial crew training in 2015, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, a member of the astronaut class of 2013 who will be making her first flight.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

On the right, NASA astronauts conduct a fully-suited exercise in Boeing's CST-100 Starliner mock-up trainer in early May at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Lawmakers in Congress, however, insisted that NASA still needed to develop its own rocket and space capsule, called the Space Launch System. "The result is that we'll have a better and safer spacecraft", he said.

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Nasa astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, will fly together as SpaceX's first Dragon crew. "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". The uncrewed test is planned for November; the test flight with crew aboard is set for April 2019. American astronauts have still traveled to space, but they've used Russia's Soyuz spacecraft at a cost of about $80 million per seat. Behnken is a retired Air Force pilot with two shuttle flights and six space walks under his belt.

"Rockets are fun. I'll be ready, I can't wait", Williams said in an interview posted Friday on the International Space Station Facebook page.

A recent mission abort by Boeing resulted from leaking engine fuel, and U.S. astronauts have until now taken Russian Federation capsules to the space station - at a cost of up to $82m for a seat.

After a almost decadelong hiatus, NASA plans to once again start launching piloted spacecraft from American soil, this time aboard two commercially developed vehicles, beginning in early to mid-2019.

The first SpaceX mission to the ISS will be manned by Victor Glover, another newbie, and Mike Hopkins, who has already spent 166 days on the sky-high lab during two tours of duty. "The person who could do a spacewalk, do some robotics, had a test background if that was required for the mission at hand, and so really looking for a crew member that touches all those bases was really critical going forward", Behnken said.

Glover and Cassada are spaceflight rookies.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew. NASA picked Crew Dragon and Starliner to replace the space shuttle for ISS transportation back in 2014.

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