NASA Taps Georgia Tech Alumnus for Historic Space Mission

Starliner and Crew Dragon

All nine have military experience in Navy, Air Force, or Marines.

In the same final space shuttle mission, Astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Mann will join the commander.

Christopher Ferguson is a native of Philadelphia.

Ferguson isn't now a NASA employee, though he served as an astronaut from 1998 to 2011 and commanded the final Space Shuttle mission.

The announcement marks an important milestone for NASA's Commercial Crew program, which has paid Boeing and SpaceX $6.8 billion since 2014.

Nicole Aunapu Mann is a California native and a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps. Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to fly Crew Dragon for the first time in April 2019. Boe was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2000.

Bridenstine also introduced the crews of the first missions to the International Space Station by each new craft, which will follow the test flights.

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.

Robert Behnken is from St. Ann, Missouri.

Doug Hurley: Hurley's hometown is Apalachin, New York. He has flown to space twice before this, both on space shuttle missions.

Both vehicles will launch from Florida - Boeing's Starliner, boosted by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and SpaceX's Dragon from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

After successful completion of the flight tests with a crew, NASA will review flight data to verify that the systems meet the agency's safety and performance certification requirements and are ready to begin regular servicing missions to the space station, the USA space agency said.

"We're immensely proud of Chris and thrilled he will be part of first Starliner crew", Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said. While she was there in 2007, she completed the Boston Marathon - on a treadmill - in 4 hours 24 minutes, marking the first time an entrant had finished the race from orbit. He was selected as an astronaut in 2013. Josh Cassada of the Navy, who will be making his first voyage into space.

Born in Euclid (Ohio), Williams came to NASA from the Navy where she was a test pilot and rose to the rank of captain before retiring.

The two pairs of NASA crewmates will be accompanied to the station by Russian cosmonauts and worldwide astronauts, to be announced at a later date.

Victor Glover is from Pomona, California.

"As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this", said Mann, a Naval aviator. In light of that, watching them train and then fly these missions over the next year or so should be fun for all involved.

Mike Hopkins: Hopkins was raised on a farm near Richland, Missouri, and he has a master's in aerospace engineering. She has spent a grand total of 322 days in space including a stint commanding the space station and performing seven spacewalks. Both vehicles were developed in cooperation with NASA to deliver crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory. NASA had originally expected the companies to have their spacecraft ready for missions to the International Space Station by the end of previous year, but neither were able to meet that target.

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