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NASA has tapped nine astronauts to become the first to launch to space from American soil since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011.

The event was webcast live and was presided by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Since her selection as an astronaut in 1998, she has spent 322 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.

NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 as part of its commercial crew program, aimed at helping private industry build spaceships to reach low-Earth orbit. "We are yet to know the final dates for the mission".

Boeing; Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn illustration of a NASA astronaut flying with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon space capsules. That flight is now projected to lift off in April of 2019.

The announcement can be seen on NASA TV and streamed on NASA's Facebook. "As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this".

The crew assignments came a day after NASA issued new schedules for the uncrewed and crewed test flights, pushing back the flights by several months from earlier schedules.

The program's core goals are to get an American-made ships able reach the International Space Station (ISS), plus reduce or eliminate United States reliance on Russia's ever-more-expensive Soyuz spaceships to get there. Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams will crew the Starliner's first mission, while Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly aboard the Crew Dragon first mission.

After each company successfully completes its crewed test flight, NASA will begin the final process of certifying that spacecraft and systems for regular crew missions to the space station.

It's been a long trip for these astronauts. SpaceX will launch the Crew Dragon, while Boeing will launch its CST-100 Starliner.

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Both Crew Dragon and Starliner are created to carry four astronauts. Those were Behnken, Boe, Hurley and Williams. She's also spent 50 hours and 40 minutes on spacewalks, an accomplishment that is second on the list for female astronauts, according to her NASA biography.

Chris Ferguson, former NASA astronaut and commander of NASA's shuttle flight in 2011.

Williams and eight others were announced as the crew for the first flights in two spacecraft made by Boeing and SpaceX last week. This will be Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013. He also serves as a Navy commander, naval aviator and was a test pilot.

NASA is now assigning crew members to these test missions, and will work with both companies and the Eastern range to clear launch dates that will allow all science investigations and other operations on the ISS will not be interrupted. Both vehicles are reusable. SpaceX is targeting late November for its first test flight while Boeing is expected to launch in late December or January.

Those launch targets may change.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule, on current timelines, is set to make its maiden crewed flight in April.

The first manned flights were initially supposed to take place in 2018. In the meantime, NASA will still rely on Russian Federation to keep Americans flying in space.

"If neither Boeing nor SpaceX are ready to fly by November 2019, the USA risks a gap in access to the ISS", says Chaplain.

The astronauts named on Friday will be carried aloft aboard spacecraft developed by entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing Co.


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