NASA announces crews for first commercial manned launches

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

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NASA has announced the crews for the first commercial manned launches.

Boeing’s crew flight test aboard its Starliner spacecraft, which is targeted to launch in mid-2019, will have Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson and Nicole Mann on board. Boeing’s first post-certification mission will have Josh Cassada and Suni Williams aboard.

SpaceX’s demo mission 2 aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft, which is targeted to launch in April 2019, will have Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. The first post-certification mission will be crewed by Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins.

These crews cover the first two manned missions for each spacecraft.

Hat tip Kirk Hilliard.

More information here.


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  • Kirk

    NASA’s press release: NASA Assigns Crews to First Test Flights, Missions on Commercial Spacecraft

    Not much news beyond the crew assignments themselves and a mention that “Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA’s international partners at a later date.”

  • I wonder if the crews have to be from NASA? Can SpaceX say, “We got this it’s time to fly Americans to space again,” and launch some of their people when they decide they’re ready?

  • Kirk

    John, I suppose that SpaceX could decide to take their capsule out for a joy ride, but they would be foregoing a very lucrative contact.

    Your query does raise the interesting question of why Boeing is flying their own test pilot but SpaceX is not. This 2013 story by Ken Kremer reported that NASA managers at KSC said the agency “wants private companies to assume the flight risk first with their crews before exposing NASA crews as a revolutionary new flight requirement.” Garrett Reisman (“a former space shuttle astronaut who is now the SpaceX Commercial Crew project manager leading their development effort.”) said “We were told that because this would be part of the development and prior to final certification that we were not allowed, legally, to use NASA astronauts to be part of that test pilot crew.” and that the first manned Dragon test flight with SpaceX test pilots could be launched in mid 2015.

    I don’t know the history of the program well enough to say when this requirement changed.

  • pzatchok

    In my opinion, and by history, NASA requirements are used and waived on a purely political basis.

    If NASA needed to send people to the station next week they would find a way. They would fly them in a modified tin can on top of a reused nuclear launcher if they had to.

    If Russia was charging us less we would use them more.
    If Russia was not having the trouble they are having now we would be slowing down any American development with more requirements.
    If Russia was no longer able to launch for any reason NASA would find a way to certify SpaceX for a manned launch next month.
    If SpaceX was the only launch provider in the US, NASA would ignore it if SpaceX launched their own people the first time and before final NASA certification. But as it stands they are using legacy launchers and Boeing to slow them down with quiet threats of dropping contracts.

    As it stands Russia is looking less and less likely to be able to provide reliable launches so don’t be surprised that NASA finds ways to take the breaks off of private manned launches.

    I would not be surprised if NASA was not providing unclassified plans for parts to companies supplying the Russian space agency. Just to make sure our astronauts are flying a safer ship. Heck Russia might be buying off of us through shell companies.

    Watch for the Russian space launch system to collapse when SpaceX is fully certified and we no longer need them. They will be pressed to even keep their military launches going on time and reliably.
    They might start to use Chinese launchers and beg us to let the Chinese dock with the Station.
    If they are in office then, watch the democrats agree to this in the spirit of something something something BS.

    As long as the ISS is in space and manned by the US NASA will do all they can to slow down private station construction. But watch what happens when that is no longer available to the US.

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