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"Both contractors have said that their schedules are aggressive and they set ambitious-rather than realistic-dates, only to frequently delay them", says Cristina Chaplain, the GAO director who provides oversight for NASA, including the Commercial Crew program.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Friday (local time) announced the names of the first astronauts to fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who made the introductions at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on Friday.

On July 8, 2011, the space shuttle Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center, marking the last time a US astronaut was launched into space from American soil.

"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp".

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.

However, there is still much work to be done before the nine and men women chosen to head to the International Space Station can safely embark on NASA's new ships.

On the first operational mission to the International Space Station, Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada would fly for Boeing.




SpaceX and Boeing are planning a test flight of their capsules by the end of this year or early 2019. SpaceX aims to launch an uncrewed test flight in November of this year, with a Boeing test flight scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019. He joined the astronaut corps in 2000 and flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour twice, for the STS-123 and STS-130 missions, during which he performed six spacewalks totaling more than 37 hours.

Glover and Cassada are spaceflight rookies. Ms. Williams previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station, most recently returning to the Earth in 2012.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, will fly together as SpaceX's first Dragon crew.

SpaceX's first crewed test flight on the Crew Dragon will be flown by astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in April 2019. A NASA press release says more crew members may be added to those flights later. With NASA as the anchor customer, Boeing's Starliner is setting the foundation for commercial passenger flights to and from low-Earth orbit destinations, to include global astronauts, scientists and even tourists. The company's first mission, should the test be successful, will be flown by Victor Glover, at his first flight to space, and ISS veteran Michael Hopkins.

Since then, they have been in a race to see which company would fly first in what's become a sort of modern-day space race.

The contracts for travel to the International Space Station were awarded in 2014. The delays could even result in a gap in USA access to the space station, because NASA has contracted for seats on Soyuz only through November 2019, the report found.

It's getting real: The test launches of these rockets will be some of the most anticipated since the end of the shuttle program-success would cement the private space industry in the annals of crewed space exploration.

NASA has always been working on its commercial crew programme, helping to accelerate private companies' spaceflight capabilities while it focuses its own efforts on other space exploration projects, such as the Space Launch System slated to launch in 2020.


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