NASA is months away from setting a new course in Human Space Flight History. The Commercial Crew Program, a partnership between Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and Space X’s Crew Dragon are leading the way for the return to flight of US astronauts from US soil. NASA Kennedy Space Center is leading the way in these efforts. NASA has worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX as the companies’ design, develop, and test their systems to ensure safe, reliable and cost-effective commercial transportation for astronauts to low-Earth orbit. While NASA focuses on deep space exploration, the commercial partners will handle the Lower Earth Orbit Human Space Flight. After successful test flights with crew of both spacecraft, NASA will begin the process of certifying the spacecraft and rocket systems for regular crew missions to the space station. The agency has contracted six missions with up to four astronauts, per-mission, for each company. Commercial transportation to and from the space station will maintain a crew of seven astronauts, maximizing time dedicated to scientific research on the orbiting laboratory. This research is crucial for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight, which will allow humans to explore farther into space than ever before.
Meet the Crew:
|Rocket||United Launch Alliance – Atlas V||Falcon 9|
|Launch Complex||Launch Complex 41 (Cape Canaveral Air Force Base)||Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center|
|NASA test flight astronauts||Eric Boe
|Robert (Bob) Bohnken
|Boeing’s test flight astronaut||Chris Ferguson|
|Operational Mission 1 NASA astronauts||Josh Cassada
Meet the Space Capsules:
|Starliner Capsule Design Details: A 21st Century Space Capsule Design||Space X Crew Capsule|
As NASA looks to having these commercial companies handle Lower Earth Orbit mission, NASA will focus on deep space exploration, returning to the Moon and onto Mars in the 2030’s. The eyes of America will be focus on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where NASA re-launches astronauts from American soil. First test flight for Boeing will be late 2018 and for Space X is projected for November 2018. Crew flights are projected mid-2019 for Boeing and April 2019 for Space X. The excitement is in the air, to know we will soon return to flight, let the Crew Dragon soar and Starliner reach the stars.
Dr. Lester Morales
Educator Professional Development Specialist, NASA STEM EPDC
NASA Kennedy Space Center