Payload Blog

NASA’s Commercial Crew Flight Assignments Announced

A new era of spaceflight for America is just around the corner. More than seven years have passed since STS-135 Atlantis launched as the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program. Now, within the next year, humans will launch again from American soil, right here at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Today, NASA announced the nine astronauts who will crew the first flight tests and missions as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

The astronauts selected to fly Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on the first crewed test flight are Eric Boe, Nicole Aunapu Mann, and Christopher Ferguson. Astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada will fly on Boeing’s second crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The astronauts flying the SpaceX Crew Dragon on the first crewed flight test are Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, and the astronauts for the second crewed mission to the ISS are Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins.

The Commercial Crew Program was created with the purpose of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the ISS from the United States. This allows NASA to focus on deep space missions while SpaceX and Boeing operate low-Earth orbit missions. SpaceX and Boeing received contracts to provide crewed launch services to the ISS in 2014.


Today, NASA announced the first Commercial Crew flight assignments. These astronauts will soon be launching from Kennedy Space Center:

Artist rendering of Boeing CST 100 for the Commercial Crew Launches
Artist rendering of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner
First Crewed Test Flight: Mid-2019

  • Christopher Ferguson: He piloted space shuttle Atlantis for STS-115, and commanded shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis on STS-126 and STS-135, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. Chris retired from NASA in 2011 and has since worked on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner program.
  • Eric Boe: Selected as an astronaut in 2000, he has logged 28 days in space as the pilot of STS-126 Endeavour and STS-133 Discovery.
  • Nicole Aunapu Mann: Currently a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, she has logged more than 2,500 flight hours. Nicole was selected as an astronaut in 2013, and this will be her first trip to space.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner
Second Crewed Flight; Mission to the International Space Station: Date TBD

  • Josh Cassada: He is Navy Commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours. Selected as an astronaut in 2013, this will be his first spaceflight.
  • Sunita Williams: Selected in 1998, she has flown two long duration missions, STS-116 and STS-117, logging 322 days in space where she performed seven spacewalks.
Artist rendering of SpaceX Crew Dragon for the commercial crew program.
Artist rendering of the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon
First Crewed Test Flight: April 2019

  • Douglas Hurley: He became an astronaut in 2000, flying on STS-127, as well as the final shuttle flight, STS-135, and spent 28 days in space.
  • Robert Behnken: A NASA astronaut since 2000, Robert logged 29 days in space aboard STS-123 and STS-130 where he performed six spacewalks.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon
Second Crewed Flight; Mission to the International Space Station: Date TBD

  • Michael Hopkins: He is an Air Force Colonel and test engineer who spent 166 days on the International Space Station for Expeditions 37/38, and conducted two spacewalks.
  • Victor Glover: He logged more than 3,000 hours flying as a Navy commander, Naval aviator and test pilot. Selected as an astronaut in 2013, this will be his first spaceflight.

The targeted dates for test flights are in the immediate future! As of August 3, 2018, Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed) is scheduled to launch in late 2018/early 2019, with a goal of launching the Boeing Crew Flight Test with astronauts on board in mid-2019. Similarly, the SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed) is targeted for November 2018 with the crewed SpaceX Demo-2 planned to liftoff in April 2019.

The 9 astronaut that have flight assignments for the commercial crew program.
L to R: Suni Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover

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