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NASA is ready to name the astronauts who will take the very first SpaceX and Boeing flights

Published Jul 28th, 2018 1:33PM EDT
nasa new astronauts
Image: John Raoux/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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NASA’s plans for sending manned missions aboard spacecraft from SpaceX and Boeing might be a bit delayed — thanks to the companies, not NASA itself — but they’re still definitely going to happen sooner rather than later. Once all the testing is done and the high-tech machines are ready to start hauling passengers, NASA astronauts will step up to the plate and ride them into space. Next week we’ll get to find out who will be aboard both missions, and you can watch live as the announcements are made.

NASA has announced that the naming of the astronauts for the first crewed missions of both the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner will be made on Friday, August 3rd. The event will take place at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and will also be streamed live on NASA’s YouTube page.

“NASA will announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification missions for both Boeing and SpaceX,” NASA said in the announcement post on its website. “NASA partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner spacecraft to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 rocket, respectively.”

Those partnerships have been put to the test in recent months as both companies have fallen short of their milestone goals leading up to their eventual manned missions. Setbacks are fairly common in the space industry, but the regularity with which these new spacecraft have been repeatedly pushed back has left NASA in a tough spot.

At the moment, it’s looking increasingly likely that NASA won’t have a ship from either SpaceX or Boeing ready in time to keep a steady stream of American astronauts headed to the International Space Station. NASA has been using Russia’s Roscosmos space agency to deliver its scientists to the orbiting laboratory but their contract will run out before the oft-delayed ships from SpaceX and Boeing are ready to take passengers.

Nevertheless, the new ships will eventually be ready for their time in the spotlight, and NASA has decided who will be riding them into the heavens. We’ll find out who they are next Friday.