Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

Sunita Williams on pioneer list to test Boeing, SpaceX flights

Sunita Williams on pioneer list to test Boeing, SpaceX flights

On Friday, NASA revealed the nine astronauts that will fly on Boeing and SpaceX's first crewed launches.

Both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon will need to meet stringent safety requirements and prove they are fit for regular flights.

The 42-year-old Glover will be among the first Americans to launch into orbit from USA soil since NASA's space shuttle program shut down in 2011.

Since NASA's space shuttle program was shut down in 2011, it has had to rely on Russian Federation to fly astronauts to the space station. The delays could even result in a gap in US access to the space station, because NASA has contracted for seats on Soyuz only through November 2019, the report found.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know we're back", Bridenstine said in a speech. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space". NASA will only put astronauts on board once uncrewed flight tests have made the return journey to Earth and spacecraft systems have been validated by data reviews.

"As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this", said astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann, a Naval aviator who will make her first trip into space on the first Starliner crew.

All nine have military experience in Navy, Air Force, or Marines.

While NASA didn't require uncrewed flight tests, both companies will be shooting them off to the ISS anyway, because you can never be too positive things won't glitch once you're 1,200 miles beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Williams has been named for the Boeing programme to the ISS - the first test flight scheduled to take place in the middle of 2019.

Josh Cassada, 45, will fly with Sunita ("Suni") Williams, 52, aboard NASA's first contracted Starliner mission. She then served two combat tours, flying 47 combat missions in F/A-18s (a United States combat jet) as a fighter pilot over Iraq and Afghanistan.

When the Starliner approaches the International Space Station, the docking will be fully autonomous as the spacecraft manoeuvres toward an adapted docking port for commercial spacecraft. This will be Ms. Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013. He is a Navy commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft. She has spent 322 days in orbit during two missions to the space station. Preceding them in flight will be Chris Ferguson, Nicole Mann, and Eric Boe who will conduct the vehicle's test flight. The group includes eight current NASA astronauts and one Boeing astronaut.

Victor Glover: Glover is a native of Pomona, California and he has three master's degrees. At the time, SpaceX's Crew Dragon (known as Dragon V2 at the time) and Boeing's Starliner (just CST-100 back then) won a four-year competition-and contracts worth billions-to fly astronauts to space. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009.

Michael Hopkins was born in Lebanon, Missouri, and grew up on a farm near Richland, Missouri.

Initially, all four crew members trained on both vehicles, but with flights just a year away, NASA is now assigning the crew to specific missions.

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