NASA announces crews for Boeing and SpaceX flights
August 3, 2018 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Today NASA announced the 9 men and women who will take part in the test flights and first missions of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are scheduled to fly the first manned test flight of the Crew Dragon in April of 2019. Next summer Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson, and Nicole Anapu Mann will pilot the test flight of the Starliner.

They will be followed later in the year by the first missions of each spacecraft, with Suni Williams and Josh Cassada flying the Starliner, and Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins flying the Crew Dragon.

Video of the announcement can be seen here.

The astronauts are currently answering questions on Reddit.
posted by lharmon (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Nice to see the shuttle replacement programs finally coming to something like fruition.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:11 PM on August 3, 2018

How is it that even in middle age I still have a visceral reaction that astronauts are the coolest people in the world?
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 1:14 PM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]

How is it that even in middle age I still have a visceral reaction that astronauts are the coolest people in the world?

They pretty much are bad-ass. I mean, look at those resumes!
posted by dellsolace at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's the jumpsuits speedsuits vault suits.

I mean, just look at those things.
posted by rokusan at 1:46 PM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

So all four are spacebound missions, but the test flights are basically checkout flights to prove the space systems while reserving actual science and stuff for the Williams/Cassada and Glover/Hopkins missions?
posted by Kyol at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2018

9 commercial astronauts, 2 PoC, neither of them part of the first mission crew in either craft

2 of the 9 are women - which is terrible but still better than Russia who has only put one female cosmonaut into space since 1984 (not counting the paid rides they "host")

These crew compliments don't look that different from the shuttle crews of the early 80's.
posted by thecjm at 2:04 PM on August 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

I know that there's a risk with every rocket that goes up, but it brings it to the front and center for me when it's a new rocket system. These people must have a ton of courage, good on them.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 2:34 PM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

The first test crews dock at the ISS for about a week then return, the second crew stays for six months. There is a spare seat not determined yet for a non-pilot scientist to be named later.
posted by sammyo at 3:10 PM on August 3, 2018

These crew compliments don't look that different from the shuttle crews of the early 80's.

I think this is related to the US military being shit to women. A huge portion of astronauts are ex-military (lots of former test pilots) and these nine are no exception. (I would suspect people of color are underrepresented among officers (who make up the future astronaut population), but can't confirm that with a quick google.)
posted by hoyland at 5:09 PM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

These crew compliments don't look that different from the shuttle crews of the early 80's.

For this set of missions in particular, NASA suffers from shortsighted decisions regarding diversity made during the Clinton administration. These are mostly older members of the astronaut corps with a lot of flight-hours under their belts, and all of them are former military. It makes sense to send up the more experienced astronauts and pilots on the first missions on new commercial launches that have a higher-than-normal probability of exploding.

The most recent classes are a little better:
Astronaut Class 21 (2013): 4/8 women, 1/8 PoC
Astronaut Class 22 (2017): 5/12 women, 4/12 PoC

Part of the problem is that you've got to have an incredibly impressive resume to become an Astronaut (I mean, just look at the wiki for Dr. Jonny Kim!), and well, those aren't as accessible to women and PoC. Add on to that the general shittiness of STEM and Military fields, and, welp ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

To its credit, NASA does a lot of educational outreach to try and help the pipeline problem. And I know first hand that they run a LOT of great programs for public school kids in places near NASA Centers. But the entirety of NASA has less money for education than the city of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
posted by Zuph at 7:20 PM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]

Are these people in Space Force or not????
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:32 PM on August 3, 2018

Not. Space Force is intended to take over the space roles that the USAF AFSPC covers. Their involvement in human spaceflight is mostly ground support.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:40 PM on August 3, 2018

Today NASA announced the 9 men and women

Not quite correct. NASA announced 9 of the crew. The international partners are still expected to name some crew. Specifically, the following was in NASA's press release but not stated during the Friday event (video link):

"Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA’s international partners at a later date."

I have seen this interpreted as happening after the spacecraft are "certified", thus they would fly on the "post certification missions" (PCMs), the first of which is mentioned in the press release and in the media coverage.

ISS has five major international partners:
- Russia
- Europe (ESA)
- Japan
- Canada

I wouldn't be surprised to see a Russian in each PCM for a while, especially during a transition period when the USA is still cycling astronauts up and down on Soyuz flights. The USA and Russians would essentially be trading seats.

Then one of the other three partners would get a seat on each flight, or every other flight, on a rotating basis. That is precisely how seats are assigned on Soyuz now.

Most of the names in the announcements are very well known and frankly obvious to anyone whos' been paying attention. Boe, Hurley, Behnken, Ferg and Sunni have been deeply involved in the CCP for years now.

To me, the real news in Friday's announcements are:

1. Boeing is sending up one of their own employees, but SpaceX isn't. Maybe that's why Garrett Reisman quit SpaceX two months ago. Bummer.

2. We now have an actual target date (well, month) for the first launch, and SpaceX is now clearly in front of Boeing to be first. But watch for Boeing to somehow restack the deck in their favor. They have a massive lobbying presence in Washington and have pulled rabbits out of hats before. When the commercial crew program competition was wrapping up in 2014, it was widely expected that SpaceX and Sierra Nevada were going to win it. But insiders believe that Boeing pulled off some kind of political miracle in the 2-3 weeks before the Sept 2014 announcement and -- tada! -- Boeing had won, taking Sierra Nevada's place.
posted by intermod at 8:41 PM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

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