Sci-tech

NASA Announces Boeing and Space Crews

NASA Announces Boeing and Space Crews

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems created to carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit. In speeches, he's fond of predicting that the first person to step foot on the Red Planet will get there in a Boeing rocket. The space agency, in 2014, had joined forces with SpaceX and Boeing to build the Crew Dragon lifting-off atop the Falcon 9 rocket and the Starliner spacecraft to lift-off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, respectively.

Part of Boeing's delay arose from a propellant leak in June during a launch-abort engine test in New Mexico. Crew for Boeing's Crew Flight Test and SpaceX's Demo-2 flights will each include at least a flight commander and pilot aboard to test out the systems.

The Crew Dragon capsule is a next-generation spacecraft created to carry humans to ISS and other destinations, according to SpaceX.

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After a month from the engine test issues, Boeing will have to delay the first two major test flights to the ISS of their future passenger spacecraft - The CST-100 Starliner.

NASA plans to announce the astronauts who will make the first flights aboard the Dragon and CST-100 during a presentation Friday at the Johnson Space Center.

Why is this a big deal?

The spacecraft that will fly the uncrewed flight test arrived in Florida last month after completing thermal vacuum and acoustics tests at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Ohio. Since then, NASA has been forced to rely exclusively on Russia's increasingly expensive Soyuz spaceships to get to the International Space Station (ISS), in which the USA government has invested about $100 billion.

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Congress ultimately boosted NASA's overall budget for the fiscal year that began on October 1 to almost $20.7 billion, part of a defense spending binge that also benefited nondefense projects. Proving that SpaceX can safely fly NASA personnel would put Musk, the company's chief executive officer, closer to his ultimate goal of carrying human colonists to Mars. DM-2, Crew Dragon's first manned demonstration flight, is still now scheduled for December 2018, as reported by the Inquisitr.

Boeing has also developed a state-of-the-art spacecraft, the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner. Other crew members for the first flights are likely to include four astronauts selected back in 2015: Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams.

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Although NASA has not yet said which astronauts will be assigned to these historic first flights, four astronauts have already been working closely with Boeing and SpaceX in the testing and development of their capsules.