NASA unveiled on Friday the names of the nine astronauts who will be heading into space in space pods of Boeing and SpaceX in 2019: a mix of veteran astronauts and young space wolves.
These pioneering flights will allow the United States to resume sending people in space with American means, NASA having stopped its space shuttles in 2011 and resting since on the Russian rockets to take its astronauts on the road. International Space Station (ISS), disbursing $ 80 million for a single seat.
This is also the first time that US private companies will handle this routing, since NASA asked Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 to develop new launch systems to take over in 2019.
"This is important for our country, we want America to know that we are back, that we are flying American astronauts into US capsules from American soil," said Jim Bridenstine, the director of the US Space Agency, at a ceremony to present the nine astronauts (seven men and two women) from Houston, Texas.
SpaceX planned a non-passenger demonstration flight in November 2018, while the first astronauts, including Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, are expected to leave Earth in April 2019.
For Boeing, who develops the Starliner capsule, two experienced pilots will participate in the test flights: Eric Boe, 53, Christopher Ferguson, 56. They will be accompanied by Nicole Aunapu Mann who will make her first trip to space, and the experienced Sunita Williams, former pilot of the US Navy (52 years).
In total, NASA explained "having signed a contract for six missions, with a maximum of four astronauts per mission, for each company."