Sunita Williams among 9 astronauts for NASA’s new private space flight programme

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NASA introduced to the world on Friday the first US astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station - an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to USA soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.

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.

NASA's new administrator Jim Bridenstine will announce which astronauts will be on which spaceship Friday morning in Houston.

Nasa on Friday named the first nine astronauts who will fly to space on Boeing and SpaceX vehicles in 2019 - a mix of novices and veterans who are tasked with restoring America's ability to send humans into orbit.

The astronauts assignments will be for both the test flights of Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon, which won't dock with the ISS, as well as the first post-certification missions for both private companies, which will head to the space station. Williams will be in the second crew in the Boeing Starliner, which will take them to the ISS.

"The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot", said Hurley, who flew on the last shuttle mission.

The announcement is a major development after years of obstacles in sending crews to space.

NASA named nine astronauts who will be on the first space flights launched from U.S. soil since the shuttle program ended in 2011. "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". SpaceX has leased NASA's historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida to launch Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

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On the first operational mission to the International Space Station, Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada would fly for Boeing. These test flights will provide invaluable data on how rockets, ground systems, operations and the spacecraft themselves perform.

Three of the chosen astronauts joined the corps in 2013, which was before the commercial partnership was announced. She has logged 322 days in space. "We had our quarterly [review] this week, and for the first time in years, it felt real". For the first actual Crew Dragon mission, Victor Glover will undertake his first spaceflight alongside seasoned astronaut Michael Hopkins, who has spent 166 days aboard the space station. The spacecraft will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before flying their crew back to Earth.

A recent mission abort by Boeing resulted from leaking engine fuel, and USA astronauts have until now taken Russian Federation capsules to the space station - at a cost of up to $82m for a seat.

The seven men and two women will also be the first astronauts to fly in capsules developed and built by the private sector are seen in a photo released by NASA.

The crew missions have been repeatedly delayed because of technical and safety issues.

The test flight astronauts on the Crew Dragon, both of whom joined NASA in 2000, will be Col. 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.

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