SpaceX and Boeing, which are partnering with NASA, will first launch test flights, then regular missions.
Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine introduced the astronauts during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The announcement of crew for these first four flights is a nice morale booster for the Commercial Crew program, but there's still a long way to go.
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Boeing's CST-100 Starliner, on the other hand, will likely perform two crucial test flights next year, instead of this year as planned. NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann are slated for the test flight of Boeing's Starliner, accompanied by former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, who now works as a commercial astronaut for Boeing. This will be her first trip to space. Ms. Williams previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station, most recently returning to the Earth in 2012.
US President Donald Trump also praised the news while giving himself a pat on the back: "NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and Spacex space flights", he tweeted.
Mr. Behnken, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Boe and Ms. Mann are NASA's first astronauts to be named to the test flights of new US spacecraft since the March 1978 announcement of the space shuttle's first orbital flight test crews.
NASA will announce Friday morning the names of the first astronauts to fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner. He flew aboard three shuttle missions, including the program's final mission in 2011.
The first Starliner post-certification mission, yet to be formally scheduled, will fly NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams.
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Boe was selected as an astronaut in 2000. He was a test pilot and colonel in the Marine Corps before coming to NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut.
The Government Accountability Office recently issued a warning to NASA that it needs to have a contingency plan in place to ensure continued access to the space station, which costs the USA about $3 billion annually.
Elon Musk's SpaceX is going to start putting people on its test flights in April next year, ahead of Boeing, NASA has revealed in a schedule published Thursday.
The commercial flights will mark the return of crew launches to the United States, which has not seen humans lift off for space since the end of the iconic space shuttle program seven years ago. Mr. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014. (BA) to the punch when it comes to flying astronauts to the International Space Station.
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