US selects four new astronauts

2015-07-09 23:32
SpaceX Dragon (Picture: AFP)

SpaceX Dragon (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Miami - Three men and one woman were named on Thursday by Nasa as the first four astronauts who will fly aboard spaceships built by private companies Boeing and SpaceX in the coming years.

Commercial space flights carrying astronauts to the International Space Station are set to begin in 2017, and will restore US access to space after a six-year hiatus following the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011.

"These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail - a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars," said Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden.

The most experienced astronaut of the quartet is Sunita Williams, 49.

Williams is a Navy captain and helicopter pilot who has already spent nearly a year (322 days) in space.

She holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut, at 50 hours and 40 minutes, Nasa said.

Doug Hurley, 48, a retired Marine colonel, has piloted two space shuttle missions, including the final one, STS-135, in July 2011.

The others, Eric Boe, 50, and Robert Behnken, 44, are both Air Force colonels who have flown on two space shuttle missions each.

"We are excited to have such an experienced group of astronauts working with the Commercial Crew Programme, Boeing and SpaceX and ultimately flying on the companies' flight test missions," said Nasa Commercial Crew Programme Manager Kathy Lueders.

Boeing is expected to be the first commercial company to carry a Nasa astronaut to space aboard its CST-100 ship in late 2017.

SpaceX has not yet announced a target date for its first crewed flight of the Dragon spaceship.

The California-based company headed by internet entrepreneur Elon Musk suffered a major setback last month when its Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after launch, destroying the Dragon cargo ship it was carrying toward the International Space Station.

A cause has not yet been determined for the blast, which was the third accident in eight months involving cargo headed to space.

Orbital's Antares rocket exploded after take-off in October, and Russia lost track of a Progress supply ship in April.

Nasa has funnelled $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to SpaceX to help the companies build a successor to the space shuttle and to encourage competition in the aerospace industry.

In the meantime, the world's astronauts fly to the ISS aboard Russian Soyuz spaceships at a cost of $70 million per seat.

Read more on:    nasa  |  spacex  |  boeing  |  us  |  space

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.