Sunita Williams among 9 astronauts to fly into space from US soil

SpaceX Dragon

In a story August 3 about nine astronauts picked for fly on commercial capsules, The Associated Press reported erroneously the first name of one astronaut. "We congratulate all the astronauts chosen to fly to the space station on commercially developed systems". According to NASA website, Williams - a veteran of two space mission expeditions - is now training for the first post-certification mission of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft - the second crewed flight for that vehicle - and her third long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. SpaceX Crew Dragon will blast off space via the Falcon 9 rocket while Boeing's Starliner will fly atop United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket.

Crewed test flights of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon are targeted to launch in 2019.

Top row, left to right: NASA Astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins; bottom row, left to right: NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

NASA has named the astronauts who will fly the first commercial capsules into orbit next year.

After the ending of space shuttle program in 2011, NASA astronauts were travelling to the ISS aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. NASA worked closely with the companies to engineer both spacecraft.

But NASA's options may be limited by the global agreements that established the station in 1998.

Prior to their maiden crewed missions, both Boeing and SpaceX plan uncrewed test flights in late 2018 or early 2019.

After years of vehicle development and building anticipation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has now put the crew in commercial crew spacecraft. Behnken, Boe and Hurley have each flown two shuttle missions, logging four weeks in space apiece. "I'll tell you, being able to launch to the International Space Station from US soil, I can't imagine better", Cassada said. The crewed flight tests will mostly mirror the uncrewed missions, except a flight commander and pilot will be manning each mission once they are ready for a human crew. Since the final shuttle mission ended, NASA has paid Russian Federation about $70 million per seat to carry astronauts to and from ISS.

The Crew Dragon missions will pave the way for SpaceX's more ambitious projects, like sending the first humans to Mars as early as 2024.

NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 as part of its commercial crew program, aimed at helping private industry build spaceships to reach low-Earth orbit.

NASA says commercial transportation to and from the space stations will enable expanded station use, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory. The test flight with crew is scheduled for mid-2019. Her first was a space shuttle mission that launched in 2007, and the second was a Soyuz-launched mission in 2012. She has logged 322 days in space.

Glover, a former Navy commander and test pilot, was also among the 2013 astronaut class. By naming crews, NASA is signaling its belief that these astronauts will fly sometime soon.

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