US to resume manned space flights

Sunday, 05 Aug, 2018

"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".

As for the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight, that will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA was established by the federal government during the Cold War to project American prestige and beat the Soviets, all in the name of space science. SpaceX will launch the Crew Dragon, while Boeing will launch its CST-100 Starliner.

Today's crew announcement for the SpaceX and Boeing test flights is a major step for NASA's push to restore American crewed access to space from US soil. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space". NASA worked closely with the companies to engineer both spacecraft.

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts from American rockets on American soil", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a televised briefing on Friday.

The first SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the space station will include NASA astronaut and Navy test pilot Victor Glover, who has logged more than 3,000 hours flying 40 different aircraft and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who has logged 166 days in space so far. They were assigned to ride on the first major flights of Boeing and SpaceX's Commercial Crew vehicles. The selected astronauts, pictured above from left to right, are Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins, and Victor Glover. A rookie to spaceflight, Cassada was selected by NASA in 2013. He's spent almost 29 days in space. "Our commitment has always been to provide NASA and those crews the highest level of mission assurance", he said in the statement.

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More astronauts will be announced to join the crews at a later date, NASA said. He flew on two flights of the space shuttle including the final mission, Atlantis's STS-135.

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. He commanded the final shuttle mission in 2011 and retired from NASA that same year. Boeing is set to perform an uncrewed test of Starliner using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket a few months after SpaceX, with a first flight with human crew expected for the middle of next year. Boeing and Space Adventures, the USA company that arranged space tourist flights on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, have a partnership that could allow paying passengers to ride in a fifth seat on CST-100 missions for shorter-duration missions. The astronauts will travel in the new Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon. On Friday, the space agency introduced the nine-member team tasked with making the first flights.

The announcement can be seen on NASA TV and streamed on NASA's Facebook.

"NASA is continuing to assess multiple scenarios to ensure continued USA access to the International Space Station", the space agency told Bloomberg.

NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 as part of its commercial crew program, aimed at helping private industry build spaceships to reach low-Earth orbit.