These nine American astronauts will make commercial spaceflight history

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NASA named the crews for the first four flights planned with commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX at a Friday news conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly on SpaceX's first crewed Crew Dragon flight. "I'm incredibly proud of the progress our team has made, and it has been inspiring to watch them work through challenges quickly, while developing a brand new human-rated spacecraft that Boeing, NASA and the nation can be proud of", Mulholland added.

Prior to their maiden crewed missions, both Boeing and SpaceX plan uncrewed test flights in late 2018 or early 2019. He, too, has a history on the space shuttle: Ferguson piloted Atlantis for STS-115, was the commander of Endeavour on STS-126, and Atlantis for STS-135, the final space shuttle mission.

This is an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to USA soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.

NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann and Boeing's astronaut Christopher Ferguson will fly the Boeing Starliner test flight, while NASA's Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will pilot the SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight.

NASA is not yet certain exactly when the launches will be.

During the manned tests, the astronauts will be able to use the displays inside the spacecraft, communicate with mission control and practise manual controls during flight. NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins would fly Dragon's first operational mission to the space station. They were two of the four astronauts selected by NASA in July 2015 to be trained to fly commercial crew missions.

The missions will mark the first crewed launches from US soil since the end of the space shuttle programme in 2011. He returns to NASA after retiring in 2011.

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Josh Cassada: Coming to NASA after a career as a test pilot in the Navy, Cassada was chosen as an astronaut in 2013.

Since the space shuttle program was shut down, the USA space agency has had to rely on Russian Federation to fly astronauts to the space station, a $100-billion orbital research laboratory that flies about 402 kilometers above Earth.

Critics say NASA's rocket is too expensive and won't fly enough to be worth the money.

"What an exciting and incredible day", Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, said at the announcement at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA's continuous presence on the space station for nearly 18 years has enabled technology demonstrations and research in biology and biotechnology, Earth and space science, human health, physical sciences. As a naval aviator, she flew combat missions during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom before becoming a naval test pilot.

Williams has already taken two trips to the space station, commanded it, and racked up 322 days in space, second on the all-time list for female astronauts.

Crew for each flight will include at least a flight commander and a pilot. It has also been paying billions for cargo deliveries to the space station by SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.

Two companies have NASA contracts to provide flights to the ISS between 2019 and 2024: SpaceX and Boeing ba .

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