NASA Announces Astronaut Assignments for First Four Commercial Crew Flights

From: Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley (Credit; NASA)

SpaceX Crew Dragon Flight Test

Targeted to launch in April 2019 aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The crew:

Bob Behnken is from St. Ann, Missouri. He has a doctorate in engineering, is a flight test engineer, and Colonel in the Air Force. 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, for a total of more than 37 hours.

Doug Hurley calls Apalachin, New York, his hometown. He was a test pilot in the Marine Corps before coming to NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut. He achieved the rank of Colonel in the Marine Corps and piloted space shuttle Endeavor for STS-127, and Atlantis for STS-135 – the final space shuttle mission.

Boeing Starliner Flight Test

From left: Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson (Credit: NASA)

Targeted to launch in mid-2019 aboard a Starliner spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The crew:

Eric Boe was born in Miami but grew up in Atlanta. He came to NASA from the Air Force, where he was a fighter pilot and test pilot and rose to the rank of Colonel. 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.

Chris Ferguson is a native of Philadelphia. He is a retired Navy captain, who piloted space shuttle Atlantis for STS-115, and commanded shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis on STS-126 and STS-135 – the final flight of the space shuttle program. He retired from NASA in 2011, and has been an integral part of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner program.

Nicole Aunapu Mann is a California native and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps.  She is an F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours in over 25 aircraft. She was selected as an astronaut in 2013, and this will be her first trip to space.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Long-Duration Mission

From left: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins (Credit: NASA)

These two NASA astronauts will launch to the International Space Station for a long-duration mission aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

The crew:

Victor Glover is from Pomona, California. He is Navy commander, Naval aviator and test pilot with almost 3,000 hours flying in more than 40 different aircraft, 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions. He was selected as part of the 2013 astronaut candidate class, and this his will be his first spaceflight.

Mike Hopkins was born in Lebanon, Missouri, and grew up on a farm near Richland, Missouri. He is a Colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. He’s spent 166 days on the International Space Station for Expeditions 37 and 38, and conducted two spacewalks.

Boeing Starliner Long-Duration Mission

From left: Josh Cassada, Suni Williams (Credit: NASA)

These two NASA astronauts will launch to the International Space Station for a long-duration mission aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Statliner atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The crew:

Josh Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. He is a Navy Commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft. He was selected as an astronaut in 2013. This will be his first spaceflight.

Suni Williams was born in Euclid, Ohio, but her hometown is Needham, Massachusetts. Suni came to NASA from the Navy, where she was a test pilot and rose to the rank of Captain. Since being selected as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days in space, commanded the International Space Station and performed seven spacewalks.

 

  • Robert G. Oler

    now all they need to do is fly

    Question ? Is the window on the Dragon still that large?

  • The rectangular one is the hatch (they are standing in front of the simulators).

    Congrats to one and all!

  • Kirk

    Interesting that Sunita Williams was shifted out of the Commercial Crew Cadre and into a Boeing PCM slot, with Nicole Mann replacing her (and flying the Boeing crewed test flight). I hope Boeing isn’t delayed enough that they need to convert their test flight into a crew rotation mission (per the recently approved contingency plan).

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    One aspect that’s carried over from the the previous maned space era. The delay. 🙂 Good luck, clear skies, and god speed to all the announced flights and crew!

  • Michael Halpern

    advanced tech, low competition and demand, along with an entrenched supplier, almost always a recipe for delay.

  • Robert G. Oler

    thanks

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    To be fair look at the raging success of suborbital and orbital commercial operations in the private sector….. The government is still forcing this one. Also, look at how late 787, A380, F22, and F35 came in. The past 20 years has been replete with complex engineering projects that come in very late and over budget. Blue Origin is also suffering from this. My observation is it’s not the economic model that’s causing this, it’s a across the board underestimation of the difficulty of the programs we undertake. Returning back to aerospace it’s only the past modifications of the A320 and 737 programs that came in reasonably ontime and within budget. My bet is the problem is human program management skills past a certain level of complexity, and for some reason we err on the side of optimism. Maybe that’s a good thing.

  • Michael Halpern

    of course when there is a major need for a product (ie weapons in wartime) development is very fast and efficient. One could state that development time and realistic expense is inverse of the demand for the product.

  • Kirk

    Maybe that’s a good thing.

    I’ve often wondered how many worthwhile projects would never have been authorized had their true cost been known upfront.

  • redneck

    And how many worthless ones……

  • Michael Halpern

    Depends on what you mean by “worthless” and whos making the decision if you mean something like SLS, then that’s incentive to go forward, if you mean something like Spaceship 2, that’s a no go

  • redneck

    I would say neither on those two. Perhaps I should have said “Not worthy of the investment in time, money, and talent”.

  • Michael Halpern

    How do you decide if something isn’t worth the investment? Its especially hard to decide that going into a project, and it depends massively on your end goals.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I wonder if it’s the lack of hands on experience. There is a lot less testing and more simulation now.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Actually, it’s in inverse to the paperwork required. Aircraft like the P-51 and P-80 were basically done with a handshake and a short contract with little oversight or reporting requirements. You just focused on “bending metal” to get it done.

  • Michael Halpern

    Both are true, how much paperwork do you think was required to get F9 from F1 to F9 B5 over the years?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I think yes. I think it’s also because corporate boards for the most part abstract away production and testing to someone else and no longer are connected to the production floor like they were up until the first half of the 20th cen. But that said, complex projects like the B-29 blew up in the faces of those involved in a very 21st cen way. I think computers and modern business practice have a lot to do with it, but it’s bigger than that.

  • redneck

    The reply was in answer to “If you knew in advance”. You can’t always know in advance, though you can have built in stop points for projects going seriously awry.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I also wonder how the changing behavior of kids also figure in. They don’t seem to spend the time building models planes, radios, model railroads, etc. like they used they. Those activities teach critical skills in terms of planning, judging workflow, focusing on objectives, etc., that would transfer directly into doing real world projects and building real world hardware. Maybe they need to be emphasized more in STEAM programs, especially for younger kids, in school.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I think you’ve ID’d yet another important factor, and this one is going to feed back into colonization once it really happens. Check out a series on YouTube called Strange Parts. While we may have lost it, the Chinese have gained it. Check out the skill set of the streetside technicians in Shenzhen China.

  • windbourne

    IIRC, SUni was working with SX, not Boeing. Yes?

  • windbourne

    Actually, the 787 was not delayed as long as most thought it would be, and it was a total cluster * for the company. Many of us have learned to hate that aircraft.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Well, it was delayed much longer than planned by the designers, the builders, and the corporate board. Those are the folks making the estimates that count. If a well versed wonk like you or me makes an educated call that it will be a longer development cycle than those who are in the trenches, well good for us. It does not mean anything other than we’re smart. And again the subject here is why do we see 787’ism everywhere in all countries in all big engineering tasks?

    BTW, I think the 787 has turned out to be an excellent aircraft the Trent 1000’s being the biggest ding in the program after the delays and the awfully large order book needed to reach profitability. However the fuel savings and savings on airframe maintenance seem to be panning out. At least we’re not getting junk at the end of our protracted engineering projects.

  • Kirk

    I don’t know. That impression was supported the photos of Capt. Williams in a SpaceX spacesuit (and there are a few seconds showing here in a D2 with a partially open clear visor — something we hadn’t seen before — during the opening video of Friday’s crew announcement; watch 01:32 – 01:37), but I never saw a report that any member of the crew cadre was working with one of the vendors more than the other.

    https://amp.businessinsider.com/images/5b2bc6881ae6621f008b46c5-750-500.jpg

  • Vladislaw

    How much did all the parts cost would have been a nice thing to add…