The announcement is a milestone in the US space programme, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.
The new spaceflight capability provided by Boeing and SpaceX will allow NASA to maintain a crew of seven astronauts on the space station, thereby maximizing scientific research that leads to breakthroughs and also aids in understanding and mitigating the challenges of long-duration spaceflight. SpaceX says their test flight will happen this November, while Boeing is now targeting late 2018 or early 2019. "Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space". "Space flight is about people".
Mr. Ferguson, who has been involved from the start in the Starliner's development, flew three shuttle missions as a NASA astronaut. Mr. Boe piloted two shuttle flights.
The program's core goals are to get an American-made ships able reach the International Space Station (ISS), plus reduce or eliminate U.S. reliance on Russia's ever-more-expensive Soyuz spaceships to get there.
SpaceX and Boeing are shooting for a test flight of their capsules to the International Space Station by the end of this year or early next, with the first crews flying from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by next spring or summer.
The Government Accountability Office said last month that launch plans could be delayed due to incomplete safety measures and accountability issues in NASA's commercial crew program.
During the manned tests, the astronauts will be able to use the displays inside the spacecraft, communicate with mission control and practise manual controls during flight.
This will be the first trip into space for Mr. Glover, Mr. Cassada and Ms. Mann.
Josh Cassada, 45, will fly with Sunita ("Suni") Williams, 52, aboard NASA's first contracted Starliner mission.
VICE News spoke with Dennis Stone, one of the founding members of NASA's commercial investment program, to hear the story behind the agency's success in backing private spaceflight.
A two-man team of NASA astronauts will ride SpaceX's Crew Dragon into orbit on its first crewed test flight, targeted for launch in April 2019. He retired from NASA in 2011 and has been an integral part of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner program. The first operational SpaceX Crew will be veteran astronaut Mike Hopkins and first-time flyer Victor Glover.
The five astronauts assigned to the first flights gathered Friday at Johnson Space Center in Houston for the announcement. He's spent almost 29 days in space. In any case, SpaceX is now the presumed leader of the race to capture the flag left on the station by the final space shuttle crew-a flag that has been waiting to return to Earth for eight years and counting.
Williams has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station since becoming an astronaut in 1998.
Ferguson, a 56-year-old graduate of Archbishop Ryan High School and Drexel University, may get his shot to be first next year.
For Crew Dragon, the now confirmed crew includes Navy commander, aviator, and test pilot Victor Glover. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by sometime in the middle of next year. He also serves as a Navy commander, naval aviator and was a test pilot.
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