NASA Taps Georgia Tech Alumnus for Historic Space Mission

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 7, 2018

NASA on Friday announced the crews of the first flights from USA soil since the space shuttle retired in 2011, an elite group of astronauts that the agency hopes will help open a new era of space travel. NASA's last space shuttle mission, the STS-135 flight coincidently commanded by Boeing's Ferguson, flew in July 2011.

"Space has transformed the American way of life", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said at the event.

NASA assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space".

Ferguson will fly with NASA astronauts Eric Boe, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, and Nicole Aunapu Mann on the first crewed test flight of Starliner, which is now projected to take place in mid-2019. Behnken, Boe and Hurley have each flown two shuttle missions, logging four weeks in space apiece.

Nasa "has contracted six missions, with as many as four astronauts per mission, for each company", the agency said.

The astronauts - named at a buoyant event held at Johnson Space Center in Houston - will be the first to launch from US soil since NASA retired its space shuttle programin 2011.

NASA has been collaborating with commercial space companies for years, with the goal of having the private sector take over "routine" trips to the space station and low Earth orbit. Many view this as the first step towards taking more people into space. Similarly, the first Starliner is being now being outfitted for launch at Kennedy Space Center, and the test flight's Atlas V Centaur upper stage-never flown in the dual-engine configuration-ships to Florida in August. Since then, NASA has been dependent on Russia's Soyuz rockets and spacecraft, paying upward of $70 million per seat to fly Americans to and from the ISS. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight.

On board Starliner's first mission will be Nasa veteran Sunita Williams, a retired Navy captain and experienced space shuttle astronaut, and Josh Cassada, a Navy pilot making his first flight to space. Therefore, it's essential that Crew Dragon and Starliner be ready for operational flights by the 2020 deadline.

The space agency selected eight of its finest active astronauts, plus one retired astronaut, from a wide array of backgrounds.

Williams has spent 322 days in space as part of two expeditions: 14/15 and 32/33. "We had our quarterly [review] this week, and for the first time in years, it felt real".

NASA seems confident these dates will hold, and that the commercial crew program is finally on the home stretch.

The seven men and two women pumped their fists in the air and gave thumbs ups as they strode onto the stage to cheers from the crowd.

While NASA didn't require uncrewed flight tests, both companies will be shooting them off to the ISS anyway, because you can never be too positive things won't glitch once you're 1,200 miles beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Boeing is now working through technical issues with its abort and parachute systems. Boeing most recently suffered a problem while testing its emergency abort system and its first test flight won't be until at least mid-2019. Dragons, meanwhile, will fly on SpaceX's own Falcon 9 rockets. Mr. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014. "We're not going to let you down".

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE