Sunita Williams in NASA's first space flights on commercial spacecraft


Sunita Williams, the Indian origin USA astronaut, will be among the nine astronauts who would fly the first missions into space on commercially provided rockets and capsules, beginning 2019. Mann will also make history as the first female astronaut on the inaugural crewed flight of a new US spacecraft.

Since the end of NASA's space shuttle program in 2011, the American space agency has relied on Russian rockets and capsules to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station. The company's first mission, should the test be successful, will be flown by Victor Glover, at his first flight to space, and ISS veteran Michael Hopkins.

NASA has named nine US astronauts who will fly aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the first crewed flight test and mission to the International Space Station.

The SpaceX crewed test flight, now scheduled for April 2019, will be flown by NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

"I'm just grateful to help usher in this new era of American spaceflight", Ferguson told the crowd.

The astronauts will fly into space on Boeing and Space X vehicles in 2019, making it NASA's first human spaceflight program since the retirement of space shuttle in 2011. This will also have former astronaut and now Boeing executive Christopher Ferguson as the crew of the Starliner test flight. Boeing will launch its CST-100 Starliner on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, also in Florida. SpaceX is trying to fix design issues with gas vessels and cracks in its engine turbines, and it's working to ensure that its rocket fueling process-which calls for filling the rockets while astronauts are on board-is sufficiently safe.

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SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company is targeting November for an unmanned test launch of the Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

NASA astronauts Victor Glover, a 1999 Cal Poly graduate, and Mike Hopkins have been selected to fly Crew Dragon, a private spaceship built by SpaceX, to the International Space Station in 2019.

"I'm sure that there is at least one Russian language instructor out there who thinks that having me fly a US vehicle is not a awful idea", Cassada said.

Glover joined the astronaut corps in 2013; he is a U.S. Navy commander and test pilot with nearly 3,000 flight hours logged in more than 40 different aircraft.

"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. He is a colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. Since her selection as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks. "The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot", Hurley said. Target dates have not yet been determined, but if no major problems crop up, SpaceX may be ready to fly by the April timeframe with Boeing following suit a month or so later.

It is true, however, that SpaceX and Boeing are paying to use some facilities owned by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. "We won't let you down". "We're so close", he said.