NASA to announce which astronauts will fly on first commercial spaceships

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Each astronaut flew on two shuttle missions, including Hurley on the final shuttle flight, STS-135, in 2011.

Eric Boe: Like many astronauts, Boe became an astronaut after a stint as an Air Force fighter pilot. If any further delays creep up, NASA's astronauts may be temporarily stranded on Earth. The missions will likely include veterans from the US' Space Shuttle program, Gizmodo reported. Both vehicles are reusable.

These demo tests will ensure that the integrated on-board rockets, and spacecrafts' critical electro-mechanical systems perform as expected. Chris Ferguson and Marine Corps test pilot Nicole Mann, who will conduct the first Starliner flight test sometime in mid-2019. In a call with reporters this week, John Mulholland, Boeing's program manager, said that several of the valves failed to fully close, resulting in a propellant leak.

Both Crew Dragon and Starliner are created to carry four astronauts. But that same propellant can be deadly to humans if not stored carefully.

Boeing is now working through technical issues with its abort and parachute systems.

The test flights will end a more than a seven-year gap since astronauts last launched from the USA, aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in July 2011. Getting a ride from Russian Federation costs the USA government $70 million to $80 million per seat, reported The Atlantic. Purchasing additional seats on the fly is apparently not an option because of the lead time it takes to construct new Soyuz capsules. The test flight with crew is scheduled for mid-2019. Ferguson is the veteran of three space shuttle missions.

These four are certainly top contenders for the first two missions.

For Starliner, that will see Navy commander and test pilot Josh Cassada make his first spaceflight, joined by Sunita Williams, a former Navy test pilot and captain before joining NASA. The test launch will be her first trip to space.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon that will be used for Demo-1 arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, will fly together as SpaceX's first Crew Dragon crew. A rookie to spaceflight, Cassada was selected by NASA in 2013. Hopkins was a member of Expedition 37 and 38 in 2013 and 2014.

NASA introduces the astronauts assigned to the first flights of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft. Williams has already spent more than 300 days in space.

"We congratulate all the astronauts chosen to fly to the space station on commercially developed systems", added Caret, a two-time Wash100 recipient. The Crew Dragon will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The commercial crew program is a public-private partnership (PPP) where the private sector and the government share development costs and the government guarantees to buy a certain amount of services. Ms. Williams previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station, most recently returning to the Earth in 2012. Just as in the past, all human launches will originate here on the space coast.