When NASA selected these four astronauts to train for commercial crew vehicles, they expressed their excitement for the future of manned flight.
The U.S. space agency NASA on Friday introduced the nine astronauts who will ride the first commercial space capsules into orbit next year. NASA also said SpaceX will launch an uncrewed flight test in November, with Boeing not expected to do that until late in 2018 or in the early part of next year.
The two pairs of NASA crewmates will fly to the station with Russian cosmonauts and worldwide astronauts to be announced at a later date.
The commander on the historic last shuttle mission, Chris Ferguson, is now a Boeing employee and has been heavily involved in developing the company's CST-100 Starliner capsule.More news: Johnny Manziel benched after throwing four interceptions
These US astronauts previously flew aboard Russian spacecraft to get to the ISS.
"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. Astronauts Sunita Williams, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken and Eric Boe have spent the past three years working with Boeing and SpaceX on their commercial crew spaceships. He's spent almost 29 days in space.
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.
When test flights do launch, Boeing's flight is dubbed Orbital Flight Test followed by Crew Flight Test. SpaceX's first flight is dubbed Demonstration Mission 1 followed by Demonstration Mission 2. He went to space again during Discovery's last mission in 2011.
Similarly, the first Starliner is being now being outfitted for launch at Kennedy Space Center, and the test flight's Atlas V Centaur upper stage-never flown in the dual-engine configuration-ships to Florida in August.More news: RNC Chair Warns Donors to Avoid Koch Network
On board Starliner's first mission will be NASA veteran Sunita Williams, a retired Navy captain and experienced space shuttle astronaut, and Josh Cassada, a Navy pilot making his first flight to space.
After announcing the crews, Bridenstine engaged in a largely lighthearted question-and-answer session with the selected astronauts, who expressed their delight in being selected and anticipation in flying on these next-generation vehicles. Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's global partners in the space station at a later date, the agency said.
"What we see now is a much great emphasis on safety", Ferguson said, regarding differences between the shuttle program. She has logged 322 days in space.
Victor Glover, 42, and Michael Hopkins, 49, will fly on the first operational mission of SpaceX's crewed Dragon.
The space agency says each post-certification flight by the CST-100 Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry four passengers on half-year expeditions to the space station.More news: Death toll rises to 52 in Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen's Hodeidah