NASA on Friday named nine astronauts for the first manned space launches from US soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.
The eight NASA astronauts will also be joined by a Boeing astronaut.
Astronaut Doug Hurley, who will be on the first crew of the SpaceX Dragon, hinted at the delays when he noted, "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". Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's worldwide partners in the space station at a later date, the agency said. "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". He flew aboard three shuttle missions, including the program's final mission in 2011.More news: Sanders Won't Dispute Claim That Media is 'Enemy' of People
On Boeing's first post-certification mission, NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who has flown on the space station two times already, will fly to the outpost again with first-time space flier Josh Cassada.
Although there has been talk of turning the International Space Station over to commercial parties upon the end of it's projected service life in 2025, a recent audit of that strategy carried out and released by NASA's Office of the Inspector General seems to indicate that such an extension of the ISS lifespan is unlikely. On the right, NASA astronauts conduct a fully-suited exercise in Boeing's CST-100 Starliner mock-up trainer in early May at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Boeing said only that it would fly NASA's astronauts by the middle of next year.
This undated photo made available by NASA on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 shows, from left, Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover standing in front of BoeingÂs CST-100 Starliner and SpaceXÂs Crew Dragon capsules at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first tests flights are expected to take place within the next few months, into early next year. "Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts", explained NASA in the statement.
SpaceX said it would fly crews by April. Boeing's and SpaceX's commercial spacecraft may also open the space station - and more broadly, Earth orbit - to more privately-funded visitors and spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft and rockets. While she was there in 2007, she completed the Boston Marathon - on a treadmill - in 4 hours 24 minutes, marking the first time an entrant had finished the race from orbit.
Boeing's Starliner will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. She has spent a grand total of 322 days in space including a stint commanding the space station and performing seven spacewalks.