NASA to Announce Commercial Crew Assignments on Aug. 3

Crew Dragon and Starliner at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will announce on Friday, Aug. 3, the astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon, and begin a new era in American spaceflight. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will preside over the event, which will begin at 11 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

NASA will announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification mission for both Boeing and SpaceX. NASA partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner spacecraft to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 rocket, respectively.

U.S. media are invited to attend the event at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and, afterward, speak with the astronauts about their assignments.

Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana will join Bridenstine and representatives from Boeing and SpaceX to introduce the crews.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems designed to carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit. The Starliner and Crew Dragon will launch American astronauts on American-made spacecraft from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time since NASA retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Commercial transportation to and from the space station will enable expanded station use, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory. The station is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight, and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and missions deeper into the solar system, including Mars.

Following the announcement, the astronauts will participate in a Reddit Ask Me Anything at 12:30 p.m. at:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AMA/

Images and video highlights from the announcement will be available at:

https://images.nasa.gov

  • Kirk

    NASA will announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and
    the first post-certification mission for both Boeing and SpaceX.

    I wonder how that will work with the contingency plan of converting the crew flight test into a full duration crew rotation mission, if the flight is sufficiently delayed. It would suck to be assigned to a test flight and be bumped by ISS mission crew when you ride isn’t ready in time.

  • Kirk

    My prediction (SWAG) for actual flight dates (not necessarily the dates which will be announced next Friday):
    SpaceX uncrewed test flight: December 2018 – January 2019
    SpaceX crewed test flight: Q2 2019
    Boeing uncrewed test flight: Q2 2019
    Boeing crewed test flight: Q4 2019
    (With a good chance that the Boeing crewed test flight will be converted into a full duration operational mission.)

  • windbourne

    no sense bumping.
    There are 7 seats, and only 2 on flight test. Adding 4 is not an issue.
    Of course, that begs the question of how the 2 come back, or the 4 stay without a craft.

  • Terry Stetler

    “SpaceX uncrewed test flight: December 2018 – January 2019”

    The Crew Dragon DM-1 spacecraft arrived at the Cape over a week ago, and its booster (B1051) is said to be next to leave Hawthorne for McGregor. This should put all elements of the stack in Florida by the end of August. A 4-5 month wait?

  • Kirk

    Do you know where the capsule’s trunk is? I’ve only seen photos of the capsule itself arriving at the cape, and the trunk was missing items such as its solar arrays which weren’t required for the Plum Brook testing. I suspect that it was returned to Hawthorne for more work.

    I’d be thrilled to see earlier dates, but suspect that the delay will be blamed on the heavy ISS visiting vehicle schedule.

    [I’ve struck out the “S” in the “SWAG” of my previous post as there is little that is Scientific in my Wild Ass Guess.]

  • Terry Stetler

    Agreed about the missing bits. When it was at Plum Brook I didn’t see any sign of the Trunk’s outer coating or conformal solar array either. Most likely it was sent back to Hawthorne for their integration before heading to KSC.

  • SamuelRoman13

    NET Aug. 31 from a long article I read. This keeps SpaceX Aug. prediction. I don’t care when they do it. I don’t have anything planned.

  • SamuelRoman13

    I wonder who will get the short straw? Dragon has an effective abort system. Starliner does not. If the solids are destructed up to a certain altitude, large chunks of burning fuel will spread out and the parachutes will burn. The abort motors could be used to save the crew if the service section was not jettisoned until the altitude was reached where parachutes would not be burned. If a burning chunk hit the capsule and stuck, ( they might just bounce off)it is 4000 degF, so it might burn through the pressure vessel into the crew. Or set off the fuel supply for the thrusters and abort motors. If it burns long enough. This happened to cars in the parking lot of one the destructs at CCAFS. NASA is crazy to use solids on a crew launch. Unless Starliner copies Dragon 2, it should only be used for cargo. In my opnion.

  • Kirk

    There is a more mundane “short straw” that I wonder about.

    The crewed test flights fly two astronauts each and there are four astronauts in the Commercial Crew Cadre — Sunita Williams, Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, and Douglas Hurley. But while SpaceX will fly two NASA astronauts, Boeing will fly one NASA astronaut alongside their own company test pilot, retired NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson. It sounds as if one from the cadre will be given a backup assignment. Of course it is possible that if Boeing is as significantly delayed as is suggested in some forums and if they are announcing honest estimated launch dates, then they might invoke the contingency plan to turn their crewed test flight into a full duration crew rotation mission and two from the cadre and Mr. Ferguson get short straws.

  • windbourne

    do you live close to kennedy?

  • SamuelRoman13

    TBA, That is not very close.

  • Steve Ksiazek

    I suppose it’s possible the first flights could do a crew rotation the same way it worked with the shuttle, bring up 2 astronauts and take home 2 of the US/ESA crew that have been at the ISS for a while. The Soyuz has a pretty long on-orbit lifespan, and can stay on orbit longer. It just needs its Russian pilot to rotate at the same frequency.

  • Kirk

    Hmm, here I am thinking about dates without noticing that, unlike the initial reports, this press release does not indicate that they will be announcing any new launch dates. I really thought that they were finally going to get serious and release some realistic launch dates, but now I suspect that they will just announce the crew selection.

  • windbourne

    TBA? Tampa beach area?
    Yeah, that is ways if so.
    Personally, I’m always a bit jealous of those that live close and get to watch. Parents live in Jupiter, but never been a launch when I go to visit.
    Hopefully as SX and BO step up the launches, I will be able to take my kids there.

  • SamuelRoman13

    Good guess, but Tampa Bay Area. Like SFBA. I don’t want to drive that far and then they cancel. I did try one time in my ’46 Ercoupe. They cancelled. I did land at Rockledge next door on cross country solo on my student ticket. F9 looked like a red star at night.

  • SamuelRoman13

    They will just say quarters. They do not know the launch dates for Crew. Too far away.

  • SamuelRoman13

    The safest Crew would be OmegA with Dragon2 if it can get 2-5 mi. away before the destruct. No worries about the problems with liquids. No sitting on a loaded rocket. But that will not happen. What they have is safe enough and they have contracts. 140m for Dragon, CRS1. What will they charge for Crew? 300m? NG might do it, but I don’t think SpaceX would. If F9 is destructed I assume that Dragon2 will clear the ball of debris?

  • envy

    NASA posted the dates:
    Targeted Test Flight Dates:
    Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): late 2018 / early 2019
    Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): mid-2019
    SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): November 2018
    SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): April 2019

    https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/2018/08/02/nasas-commercial-crew-program-target-test-flight-dates-3/