NASA unveils astronauts who will relaunch human space flights from U.S.

NASA unveils astronauts who will relaunch human space flights from U.S.

The vessels, the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner, have been developed with billions of dollars in funding from NASA, which has contracted SpaceX and Northrop Grumman to make cargo deliveries to the space station since 2012.

Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams is among the nine astronauts named by NASA on Friday for its first human spaceflight programme from the USA soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

The crew for the test flight of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner will be NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann flying with Boeing employee and former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson.

Victor Glover, 42, and Michael Hopkins, 49, will fly on the first operational mission of SpaceX's crewed Dragon.

More astronauts will be announced to join the crews at a later date, Nasa said.

Ferguson isn't now a NASA employee, though he served as an astronaut from 1998 to 2011 and commanded the final Space Shuttle mission.

SpaceX's first NASA mission to the ISS, in turn, will include Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins.

"We are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during the "Launch America" announcement. "After all these years it hasn't gone away".

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the news, and tweeted, " NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and SpaceX space flights.

"To work and live in space is just a humbling and fantastic blessing in and of itself, and now to have the opportunity to work with these great companies on something that is so important to our nation and to NASA", Glover said. The contrast was on display Friday. The astronauts have been training with SpaceX and Boeing, on top of their NASA work, ever since.

Seven men and four women will be go into orbit on crew capsules built by Boeing and SpaceX. SpaceX aims to launch an uncrewed test flight in November of this year, with a Boeing test flight scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019.

Earlier this year, NASA unveiled a commercial crew schedule that called for the first uncrewed test flights by SpaceX and Boeing this month.

"We're ushering in this new era of American spaceflight". Thank you. We take it very seriously. "We're not going to let you down".

Despite the fanfare around Friday's presentation, the Commercial Crew program has endured years of delays. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by the middle of next year.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are also working with Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas company that plans to launch private space stations into orbit, to be leased to nations or companies. The engines fired successfully, but several valves failed to close, allowing toxic propellant to leak from the engine.

Boeing has since identified the problem, he said, and is working to fix it.

Chris Ferguson: A Philadelphia native, Ferguson served as a US Navy captain before he joined NASA in 1998. The endeavour will return astronaut launches to United States soil for the first time since the country retired its aging space shuttles in 2011.

Boe, a veteran NASA astronaut, has logged more than 28 days in space across two Space Shuttle missions.

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