NASA forms flight crew for first launch from U.S. since 2010

NASA held a ceremony Friday introducing its new nine-member flight crew, who will embark on the first flights to space from U.S. launch pads some time in the next year.
By Rick Docksai | Jan 15, 2019
For the first time in nearly eight years, NASA has named an all-U.S. crew that will launch into space from the United States. The agency held a ceremony Friday presenting the nine crew members, who will board privately developed space vehicles for test flights and full-fledged mission flights later next year.

The ceremony, held in Houston, Texas, featured a stage on which each crew member walked across while an announcer called out his or her name. Some raised their arms in triumph or pumped their fists as they walked, while the audience cheered. Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, hailed this "exciting and amazing day" in an opening statement in which he spoke exultantly about the forward momentum of the U.S. space program.

"The health of NASA and our space exploration program is as strong as it's ever been, and it's getting stronger every day," Bridenstine said.

NASA is working with private companies SpaceX and Boeing to develop reusable space vehicles that will carry astronauts to space and back from U.S. space pads. Since the decommissioning of the space shuttle in 2011, NASA has had to send its astronauts to Kazakhstan and have them hitch rides aboard the Russian space agency's Soyuz space vehicles. And Russia will not guarantee any space transport for U.S. astronauts after 2019.

NASA hopes that SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner, two experimental vehicles designed to take human passengers on repeated flights, will be a U.S.-based transport to space and back. The Dragon and Starliner will embark on crewless test flights between November and January 2019. If these flights go well, then the flight crews will board one of the vehicles six to nine months later and fly to the space station.


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