These Astronauts Will Fly SpaceX, Boeing Spacecraft to the ISS

A support structure for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft the first flight of which has been postponed to 2019 is seen being installed in Cape Canaveral Florida in 2016

These nine American astronauts will launch on the first missions from American soil in American spacecraft since the Shuttle program ended in 2011.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we want Americans to know that we are back", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the crowd.

"We're ushering in this new era of American spaceflight".

The Crew Dragon missions will pave the way for SpaceX's more ambitious projects, like sending the first humans to Mars as early as 2024. The astronauts are: (from left to right) Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson of Boeing, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams. The department released an alarming report that indicated the agency could see its Commercial Crew Program delayed resulting in a loss of access to the International Space Station (ISS) for nine months or possibly more. Their mission is scheduled for April 2019.

Trump wasn't the only one heralding NASA's commercial crew announcement today. "As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this".

"I'm just really excited that we're going to take these spacecraft and show them off to our worldwide partners", said Williams.

Both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon will need to meet stringent safety requirements and prove they are fit for regular flights. Boeing astronaut, and retired NASA astronaut, Chris Ferguson joins the eight commercial crew astronauts as the first citizen astronaut.

It's been a long trip for these astronauts.

"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", Mr. Geyer said.

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"Future Commercial Crew astronauts will be riding to space on partner vehicles built by SpaceX & BoeingSpace", NASA said in a tweet.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon were selected by NASA for crew transport to the ISS. Those were Behnken, Boe, Hurley and Williams.

A white SpaceX launch suit and a blue Boeing launch suit stood on display behind the astronauts on stage.

The research taking place on the International Space Station is providing valuable information and breakthroughs for life on the ground.

Glover, who also joined NASA in 2013, summed it up simply. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by the middle of next year. The Crew Dragon will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Both vehicles are reusable.

Boeing's Starliners will soar on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets.

Those launch targets may change.

SpaceX's first test launch will ferry NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken into space. With delays pushing the test flights for both companies back until at least 2019, there is still time. She is an F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours in more than 25 aircraft.

NASA's deal with Russian Federation is due to run out at the end of the decade, and delays faced by SpaceX and Boeing have the firms bumping up close against deadlines. Dr Deepak Pandya, her father, said that she would start training for the 2019-20 mission. "We're not going to let you down".

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