Philly-Born Space Explorer Set to Become First "Corporate Astronaut"

09 August, 2018, 02:09 | Author: Emmett Howard
  • Starliner and Crew Dragon

Taking the stage Friday before a huge American flag, Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, told the crews: "What a sacred honor this was to be part of this program and to fly you".

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

On Friday NASA unveiled the names of the nine astronauts who will go into space in 2019 in space ships from Boeing and SpaceX: a mix of veteran astronauts and young ones.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is facilitating the development of a USA 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.

"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX", Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a statement.

"It's absolutely an opportunity of a lifetime", said Mann, who was selected as an astronaut in 2013.

"As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this", said Mann, a Naval aviator.

"It is going to be a proud moment for America", Mann said. "But you know, it looks like it might".

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Boeing has leased two of NASA's old space shuttle hangars at KSC, known as Orbiter Processing Facilities, to build its Starliners and house two small robotic X-37B space planes it built for the Air Force.

Hopkins had previously spent 166 days on the International Space Station, and conducted two spacewalks.

It's been a long trip for these astronauts.

NASA has been paying billions of dollars to SpaceX and Boeing to develop the crew capsules to pick up where the shuttles left off, while also paying billions for cargo deliveries to the space station by SpaceX and Northrop Grumman. With NASA as the anchor customer, Boeing's Starliner is setting the foundation for commercial passenger flights to and from low-Earth orbit destinations, to include global astronauts, scientists and even tourists. Those were Behnken, Boe, Hurley and Williams.

It could be the first time the nation has sent astronauts to space from USA soil since 2011, when NASA retired its space shuttle Atlantis and Ferguson was the last person to step off the shuttle.

"It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the ISS", he added. He served more than 24 years in the US Marine Corps as a fighter pilot and a test pilot.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon will launch on the company's Falcon 9 rocket. Boeing's spacecraft CST-100 Starliner is also expected to be reusable and will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Both vehicles were developed in cooperation with NASA to deliver crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory.

Those launch targets may change. It turns out NASA's much-awaited Commercial Crew Program will see its first Boeing crewed flight mid-2019 and its SpaceX one as early as April 2019. The first crewed flights would then follow by the end of 2018.

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