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posted by martyb on Saturday August 04 2018, @07:43PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the would-YOU-go? dept.

NASA Announces Astronauts for First Commercial Crew Missions

Today, NASA announced the astronaut selection for the first Commercial Crew flights, which will finally restore the ability to launch astronauts from American soil. Boeing's first test flight, which is scheduled for mid-2019, will have Eric Boe, social media-savvy astronaut Chris Ferguson and rookie Nicole Aunapu Mann on board. SpaceX's inaugural Crew Dragon voyage, targeting April 2019, will have Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins as crew.

NASA also announced the astronauts for the first missions, which will be long-duration and dock with the International Space Station. Suni Williams, who is best known for running the Boston Marathon on an ISS treadmill, will be joined by rookie astronaut Josh Cassada. And finally, the second SpaceX demo flight will be crewed by Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

Source: Engadget

NASA Names First Astronauts to Fly on American Spacecraft; SpaceX Poised to Fly Crew Before Boeing

NASA has selected nine American astronauts who will fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner:

NASA introduced to the world on Friday the first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station – an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.

"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight. Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space."

For now, SpaceX's crewed test flight is scheduled for April 2019, while Boeing's is scheduled for "mid-2019". The announcement comes days after an issue with Boeing's pad abort thrusters was revealed.

Also at BBC and Fortune.

Previously: Safety Panel Raises Concerns Over SpaceX and Boeing Commercial Crew Plans
SpaceX and Boeing Not Ready to Transport Astronauts to the International Space Station

Related: Boeing CEO Says His Company Will Carry Humans to Mars Before SpaceX


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

Related Stories

Boeing CEO Says His Company Will Carry Humans to Mars Before SpaceX 43 comments

Who will make it to Mars first?

It was about a year ago that Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg first began saying his company would beat SpaceX to Mars. "I'm convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket," he said during a Boeing-sponsored tech summit in Chicago in October 2016.

On Thursday, Muilenburg repeated that claim on CNBC. Moreover, he added this tidbit about the Space Launch System rocket—for which Boeing is the prime contractor of the core stage—"We're going to take a first test flight in 2019 and we're going to do a slingshot mission around the Moon."

Unlike last year, Muilenburg drew a response from SpaceX this time. The company's founder, Elon Musk, offered a pithy response on Twitter: "Do it."

The truth is that Boeing's rocket isn't going anywhere particularly fast. Although Muilenburg says it will launch in 2019, NASA has all but admitted that will not happen. The rocket's maiden launch has already slipped from late 2017 into "no earlier than" December 2019. However, NASA officials have said a 2019 launch is a "best case" scenario, and a slip to June 2020 is more likely.

#SLS2020

Also, the next SpaceX flight is an ISS resupply mission and is scheduled for this coming Tuesday (December 12, 2017) at 1646 GMT (11:46 a.m. EST) from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The plan is for the booster to return to landing at Landing Zone-1, also at Cape Canaveral.

Previously: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan
SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans
SpaceX Putting Red Dragon on the Back Burner
SpaceX: Making Human Life Multiplanetary

Related: VP of Engineering at United Launch Alliance Resigns over Comments About the Space Launch Industry
ULA Exec: SpaceX could be Grounded for 9-12 Months
Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
SpaceX Unlocks "Steamroller" Achievement as Company Eyes 19 Launches in 2017
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset
SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News


Original Submission

Safety Panel Raises Concerns Over SpaceX and Boeing Commercial Crew Plans 45 comments

Safety panel raises concerns about Falcon 9 pressure vessel for commercial crew missions

An independent safety panel recommended NASA not certify SpaceX's commercial crew system until the agency better understands the behavior of pressure vessels linked to a Falcon 9 failure in 2016. That recommendation was one of the stronger items in the annual report of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) released by NASA Jan. 11, which found that NASA was generally managing risk well on its various programs.

The report devoted a section to the composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) used to store helium in the second stage propellant tanks of the Falcon 9. The investigation into the September 2016 pad explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 while being prepared for a static-fire test concluded that liquid oxygen in the tank got trapped between the COPV overwrap and liner and then ignited through friction or other mechanisms.

SpaceX has since changed its loading processes to avoid exposing the COPVs to similar conditions, but also agreed with NASA to redesign the COPV to reduce the risk for crewed launches. NASA has since started a "rigorous test program" to understand how the redesigned COPV behaves when exposed to liquid oxygen, the report stated. ASAP argued that completing those tests is essential before NASA can allow its astronauts to launch on the Falcon 9. "In our opinion, adequate understanding of the COPV behavior in cryogenic oxygen is an absolutely essential precursor to potential certification for human space flight," the report stated, a sentence italicized for emphasis in the report.

[...] The report raised issues in general about the commercial crew program, including concerns that neither Boeing nor SpaceX, the two companies developing vehicles to transport NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will meet a requirement of no greater than a 1-in-270 "loss of crew" (LOC) risk of an accident that causes death or serious injury to a crewmember. That includes, the report stated, a risk of no more than 1 in 500 for launch and reentry.

Both programs are likely to be delayed:

Boeing, SpaceX have razor-thin margins to fly crew missions in 2018


Original Submission

SpaceX and Boeing Not Ready to Transport Astronauts to the International Space Station 10 comments

NASA Needs Backup Plan To Maintain U.S. Presence At Space Station, Watchdog Says

A government watchdog agency wants NASA to come up with a contingency plan for getting American astronauts to the International Space Station.

The recommendation is one of the major takeaways in a 47-page report from the Government Accountability Office on what is known as the Commercial Crew Program.

[...] Under the Commercial Crew Program, NASA chose SpaceX and Boeing to develop the next generation of crew capsules to take the place of the shuttle. The two companies are competing to see which one will be the first private company to launch American astronauts into space.

The GAO's report acknowledges that SpaceX and Boeing have made "progress developing their crew transportation systems," but that "both contractors have further delayed the certification milestone to early 2019." The companies had initially been required to prove to NASA that their spacecraft would meet the agency's requirements for human space flight by 2017.

Also at Space News and Ars Technica.


Original Submission

Launch of Boeing's Starliner Commercial Crew Vehicle Could be Delayed by Thruster Issue 9 comments

ASAP reviews Boeing failure, positive SpaceX success ahead of Commercial Crew announcement

As NASA prepares to provide updated launch date targets for the uncrewed and crewed Commercial Crew demonstration missions from both SpaceX and Boeing – as well as flight crew assignments for each provider – the agency's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held its quarterly meeting last Thursday, during which they outlined a failure on Boeing's part that could potentially lead to a redesign of a critical element of Starliner. The ASAP also outlined multiple points of positive progress on SpaceX's part.

As was first reported by Eric Berger on Ars Technica, Boeing suffered a test stand failure of Starliner's critical pad abort thrusters in late-June, a failure that reportedly ended with the leaking of volatile propellant from the thruster system.

In multiple statements to numerous outlets thereafter, Boeing stated that they were "confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action." But that wasn't quite the take-away from the ASAP meeting that occurred days after the company issued its statement.

"Boeing recently conducted a hot fire test for their low-altitude abort milestone for the CST-100," noted a member of the ASAP panel. "And there was an anomaly on that test that we need to better understand in terms of its potential impact on the design and operation and the schedule. And so although there's a lot of interest in this issue, Boeing has asked for some additional time to step back and understand that a little better."

New launch target dates, as well as the names of the astronauts assigned to fly to the ISS on Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, will be announced on Friday, August 3, at 11 AM EDT.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @08:00PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @08:00PM (#717307)

    On April 9, 1959, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America’s first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr., and Donald Slayton. The seven men, all military test pilots, were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America’s first manned space program. NASA planned to begin manned orbital flights in 1961.

    https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-astronauts-introduced [history.com]

    These guys might be the first astronauts to fly on a commercial +/- American spacecraft. Someone more familiar with the European crafts might know their history.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday August 05 2018, @12:44PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday August 05 2018, @12:44PM (#717498) Journal

      Well, great news for conspiracy theorists: They can point at that headline to “prove” that until now no astronaut ever flew on an American spacecraft. Especially not to the moon. ;-)

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Hartree on Saturday August 04 2018, @09:33PM (7 children)

    by Hartree (195) on Saturday August 04 2018, @09:33PM (#717317)

    I met Mike Hopkins when I was living in Albuquerque, NM. His first duty station was Kirtland AFB, and my roommate at the time who was also stationed there knew him from ROTC at the University of Illinois.
    This was long before he became an astronaut, but everyone who knew him figured he was going places. Very impressive man.

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday August 04 2018, @10:45PM (6 children)

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday August 04 2018, @10:45PM (#717343) Homepage

      I met Josh Cassada while living in L.A. He was a member of the Grape Street Crips back then and was dealing drugs, hustling, and stealing before he was finally arrested. When a NASA employee saw in the news his mugshot along with his ability to smoke a gram of crack and jump every fence in a single city block, they knew at once that he was the right diversity success story to handle space due to his demonstrated ability to operate his body under extreme stresses.

  • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @09:50PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @09:50PM (#717322)

    Why don't you use your cellphone to look up what happened in space in the 60s and 70s. Hint: plenty of astronauts flew on American spacecraft. Just because something happened back when there were only two genders doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Saturday August 04 2018, @10:12PM (4 children)

      by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Saturday August 04 2018, @10:12PM (#717337) Journal

      Those were NOT commercial space flights by any means, but I totally understand your view point. Millennials have a very short attention span and no sense of history, so if it didn't happen in the last 15 minutes I didn't happen, and they 'discover' new things every day, like the great ball of fire in the sky that rises every morning. I wonder if there is an app for that ?

      --
      For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday August 05 2018, @12:23AM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Sunday August 05 2018, @12:23AM (#717371) Homepage Journal

        I haven't actually checked but I expect Sky & Telescope publishes one.

        --
        Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by MostCynical on Sunday August 05 2018, @01:53AM (1 child)

        by MostCynical (2589) on Sunday August 05 2018, @01:53AM (#717401) Journal

        Instagram post or it didn't happen.

        --
        "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
        • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Sunday August 05 2018, @02:47AM

          by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Sunday August 05 2018, @02:47AM (#717410) Journal

          Sorry I was mad busy taking selfies and snapping shots of my lunch to worry about cray cray triv things like the moonshot :)

          If I was a true millennial I could have used emoticons to convey the above, but us old folks have to contend with ye olde Angliss.

          --
          For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
      • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Sunday August 05 2018, @07:16PM

        by isostatic (365) on Sunday August 05 2018, @07:16PM (#717578) Journal

        Sure, but the headline is "NASA Names First Astronauts to Fly on American Spacecraft". Not "Commercial American spacecraft that are going into orbit" (specify orbit as Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie both got their wings on the commercial Spaceship One) back when today's tweeters (or whatever) were still in nappys.

    • (Score: 0, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @10:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @10:22PM (#717340)

      Pedantic old fuck

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