Sunita Williams, 8 other astronauts named by NASA for first manned US space launch since 2011

Aug 6, 2018 20:45 IST
Sunita Williams, 8 other astronauts named by NASA for first manned US space launch since 2011

The US space agency NASA on August 3, 2018 introduced to the world the crew of nine astronauts who will fly on American-made spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) from the US soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.

These astronauts are Indian-origin Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover.

The astronauts will be carried from American soil onboard spacecraft developed by entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing Co to the ISS, beginning in 2019. These astronauts will first crew the test flights and then the missions involving both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Astronauts named for Boeing's CST-100 Starliner Test Flight

  • Eric Boe
  • Christopher Ferguson
  • Nicole Aunapu Mann

Boeing’s Starliner will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Astronauts named for SpaceX's Crew Dragon Test Flight

  • Robert Behnken
  • Douglas Hurley

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

Astronauts named for Starliner First Mission

  • Josh Cassada
  • Sunita Williams

Josh Cassada will fly with Sunita Williams aboard NASA’s first contracted Starliner mission. It will be Cassada’s first spaceflight. Williams had previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the ISS and most recently, returned to the Earth in 2012.

Astronauts named for Crew Dragon First Mission

  • Victor Glover
  • Michael Hopkins

Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly on the first operational mission of SpaceX’s crewed Dragon. It will be Glover’s first time in space. Hopkins had logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aims to facilitate the development of US commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.

The public-private partnerships fostered by the program will stimulate growth in a robust commercial space industry and spark life-changing innovations for future generations.

Boeing’s and SpaceX’s commercial spacecraft test flight will open the ISS to more privately-funded visitors and spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft and rockets.

Both the vehicles were developed in cooperation with NASA to deliver crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory.