The announcement is a milestone in the USA space programme, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. "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.
Earlier this year, NASA unveiled a commercial crew schedule that called for the first uncrewed test flights by SpaceX and Boeing this month.
He said the announcement advances "our great American vision" and strengthens America's leadership in space. "Space flight is about people". 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.
In 2019, SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner are both scheduled to blast off on test flights with NASA astronauts on board. What is not known is who gets to fly on which company's spacecraft, and on which flight they get to launch.
The group includes former space shuttle flyers, ex-military test pilots, rookies, and - critically - a cadre of four astronauts who've already been testing and providing feedback on the new commercial ships for years.
Astronaut Doug Hurley, who will be on the Space X test flight, hinted at the delays when he noted at Friday's Johnson Space Center announcement: "The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot, and you don't think it's ever going to happen to you".More news: Deal with US on key NAFTA rule closer, Mexico and Canada say
The first full mission of Boeing's Starliner, which will fly to the ISS for a long-duration stay, will take ISS veteran Suni Williams and spaceflight newcomer Josh Cassada.
NASA "has contracted six missions, with as many as four astronauts per mission, for each company", the agency said.
US President Donald Trump also praised the news while giving himself a pat on the back: "NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and Spacex space flights", he tweeted. Eric Boe, retired Navy Capt.
For SpaceX's first flight to the ISS, the NASA crew will be Victor Glover on his first space flight and Mike Hopkins, who spent 166 days in space as part of Expedition 37/38.
"We're flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said during the presentation ceremony at the Johnson Space Center of Houston. According to Bloomberg, NASA will name the astronauts that will fly on the tests on Friday. He is a Navy commander, aviator and test pilot with nearly 3,000 hours flying more than 40 different aircraft. In any case, SpaceX is now the presumed leader of the race to capture the flag left on the station by the final space shuttle crew-a flag that has been waiting to return to Earth for eight years and counting. He is a Navy commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft.
"It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the International Space Station", Mr. Geyer said.