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Say hello to NASA's first commercial flight astronauts

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NASA has selected four veteran astronauts to work with both SpaceX and Boeing in preparation for commercial spaceflights. It's a major step for both NASA and the US government towards returning space launches to the USA: in recent years it's had to depend on Russia to get people (and things) into space. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that the four astronauts will be: "blazing a new trail -- a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars." Astronauts and test pilots Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams will help develop the commercial company's crew transport systems, and help take astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

At the moment, contracts with both Boeing and SpaceX require at least one crewed flight test, with at least one NASA astronaut on-board to help verify the vehicle. At the same time, both companies also need to provide training to its commercial crew to get them ready in time. Once tests are passed, the companies will send between two and six crew rotation missions to the ISS, delivering four NASA crew members and at least 200.5 pounds of cargo in shuttle journeys.

Source: NASA
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