The first astronauts have been selected for a ride on commercial rockets

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The comments were made following the news that Nasa has assigned nine crew members to the first test flights for missions on US-built commercial spacecrafts - the Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

Some background: The last time humans went to space from the U.S. was July 2011, aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. - Alan Shepard, John Young are some of America's first explorers into the great unknown, but Friday NASA will announce who will be America's next space pioneers.

For the first test flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule, NASA picked Eric Boe, a veteran of two space shuttle missions; Nicole Aunapu Mann, who became an astronaut in 2013 and will be making her first trip to space; and Christopher Ferguson, who flew on three space shuttle missions before retiring from NASA in 2011 and joining Boeing's commercial space operations division.

Both the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Boeing Starliner are created to take over this task and provide ISS rides to NASA astronauts via a "space taxi" service.

As for being the only non-NASA guy on board, Ferguson explained later during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" program that Boeing always uses company test pilots for first flights "and the Starliner is no exception".

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.

Pioneering flights to the International Space Station aboard commercially built crew capsules will be the first leaving United States soil to put people into orbit.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner
Boeing Starliner Test Flights Slip – SpacePolicyOnline.com

Williams has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station since becoming an astronaut in 1998.

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.

The crews would fly on spacecraft developed not by NASA, but by two corporations, SpaceX and Boeing, which are under contract to provide a taxi-like service to the International Space Station. The first operational SpaceX Crew will be veteran astronaut Mike Hopkins and first-time flyer Victor Glover. NASA now has a contract to use the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that expires on November 2019, and the agency plans to use Boeing or SpaceX to fill the gap. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and piloted space shuttle Endeavour for the STS-126 mission and Discovery on its final flight, STS-133.

Both companies will also conduct abort system test flights to ensure the astronauts can safely escape should their rockets go awry.

NASA's response to GAO's warnings about a potential gap in having USA astronauts aboard ISS is that it is "brainstorming" options. He also serves as a Navy commander, naval aviator and was a test pilot. Ms. Williams previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station, most recently returning to the Earth in 2012.

"It's absolutely the opportunity of a lifetime", Mann, a Marine Corps lieutenant who joined NASA in 2013, said during the announcement. "Falcon 9's first and second stages for the Demo-1 mission are targeted to ship from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California to the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas for additional testing in August", NASA said.

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