NASA astronauts haven’t launched from American soil since the Space Shuttle program’s retirement in 2011. Instead, they’ve been riding shotgun in Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to get there.
Plans to alleviate the United States’ dependence on Russia for sending astronauts to the International Space Station are underway. Agreements have already been signed between NASA and commercial space companies Boeing and SpaceX to make it happen, and it’s just a matter of time before it does.
Image Credit: NASA
But you need more than just fancy new space vehicles like Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to put astronauts on the International Space Station. You also need brave men and women that are willing to participate in these vehicles’ first crewed flights.
Over the weekend, NASA introduced the nine astronauts that would fill these shoes. Out of those nine, some will participate in the space vehicles’ first crewed test flights, while the others will participate in the space vehicles’ first crewed missions to the International Space Station.
“Today, our country’s dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight. Today’s announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation’s leadership in space.”
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The astronauts NASA hand-picked for the first crewed flights of these magnificent American-made spacecraft include:
“The men and women we assign to these first flights are at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight,” added Mark Geyer, the director of NASA’s Houston-based Johnson Space Center.
“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.”
Precisely when these events will transpire is not yet set in stone, but the recent announcement shows that NASA is moving forward with plans and fulfilling promises that will ensure America’s presence on the International Space Station for the sake of space-based scientific research.