The United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Friday named nine astronauts for the first trip to the International Space Station on a commercially built spacecraft. An astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams is among the nine.
This will be the first space shuttle launches from the US since it retired its space shuttle in 2011. The astronauts will fly Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The test flights with crew will take place mid-2019, NASA said.
NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann and Boeing’s astronaut Christopher Ferguson will fly the Boeing Starliner test flight, while NASA’s Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will pilot the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight. The Boeing’s first mission will be flown by Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams, and the SpaceX mission by Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly aboard the Crew Dragon first mission. The missions will likely include veterans from the US’ Space Shuttle program, Gizmodo reported.
NASA has long been working on developing its commercial crew programme while it can focus on its space exploration projects, the report added. Many view this as the first step towards taking more people into space.