Sunita Williams, 8 other astronauts named by NASA for first manned US space launch since 2011

The US space agency NASA on August 3, 2018, introduced to the world the crew of nine astronauts who will fly on American-made spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) from the US soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.

The astronauts will be carried from American soil onboard spacecraft developed by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing Co to the ISS, beginning in 2019. These astronauts will first crew the test flights and then the missions involving both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aims to facilitate the development of US commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. Boeing’s and SpaceX’s commercial spacecraft test flight will open the ISS to more privately-funded visitors and spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft and rockets.

The public-private partnerships fostered by the program will stimulate growth in a robust commercial space industry and spark life-changing innovations for future generations. Both the vehicles were developed in cooperation with NASA to deliver crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory.

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