Sunita Williams among 9 astronauts to fly first commercial spacecraft

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The agency assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

"It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the International Space Station", Mr. Geyer said.

In a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA announced who would fly on the crewed test flights planned for next year of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, as well as the first post-certification, or operational, missions by each vehicle. Eric Boe, retired Navy Capt.

Eric Boe: Like many astronauts, Boe became an astronaut after a stint as an Air Force fighter pilot.

NASA is expected to announce the crew assignments for the first missions for Boeing and SpaceX this morning, according to a release from the agency.

Chris Ferguson: A Philadelphia native, Ferguson served as a US Navy captain before he joined NASA in 1998.

NASA has worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX to design, develop, and test their spacecraft and systems to ensure they are safe.

"It's absolutely the opportunity of a lifetime", Mann, a Marine Corps lieutenant who joined NASA in 2013, said during the announcement.

Boe was selected as an astronaut in 2000. It won't be the first time SpaceX trounces Boeing.

The 212-foot-tall core stage, referred to as the "backbone" of the rocket by NASA, will contain the SLS rocket's four RS-25 rocket engines, propellant tanks, flight computers and much more.

Robert Behnken is from St. Ann, Missouri.

The Boeing and SpaceX crewed test missions are arguably the most anticipated spaceship test flights this century.

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Earlier this year, NASA unveiled a commercial crew schedule that called for the first uncrewed test flights by SpaceX and Boeing this month. He piloted space shuttle Endeavor for STS-127 and Atlantis for STS-135, the final space shuttle mission. While both companies had recently said they would fly their first test flights with astronauts on board by the end of this year, those flights are now scheduled for 2019.

The spaceflight capability will provide the space agency an opportunity to maintain a seven-person crew on the ISS to support scientific research efforts and technology demonstrations, NASA said Friday.

Josh Cassada: Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. A rookie to spaceflight, Cassada was selected by NASA in 2013.

Williams was born in Euclid, Ohio, but considers Needham, Massachusetts, her hometown.

Victor Glover is from Pomona, California.

"As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this", she added. Williams was listed as an entrant for the 2007 in Boston and completed the distance in distance in four hours and 24 minutes.In 2008, Williams participated in the Boston Marathon again, this time on Earth.

Mike Hopkins: Hopkins was raised on a farm near Richland, Missouri, and he has a master's in aerospace engineering.

Williams has spent 322 days in space as part of two expeditions: 14/15 and 32/33.

NASA is now assigning crew members to these test missions, and will work with both companies and the Eastern range to clear launch dates that will allow all science investigations and other operations on the ISS will not be interrupted.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are also working with Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas company that plans to launch private space stations into orbit, to be leased to nations or companies.

Once the Starliner and Dragon capsules are operational, NASA will no longer need to rely on Russia's Soyuz rocket and spacecraft to launch astronauts into low-Earth orbit. His Space Policy Directive 2, signed in May, was aimed at streamlining regulations for commercial space industry.