Indian-Origin Sunita Williams to Fly NASA’S First Commercial Flight (Download PDF)


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NASA introduced to world crew of 9 astronauts who will fly on American-made spacecraft to International Space Station (ISS) from US soil for 1st time since space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.

Image of International Space Station

Image of International Space Station

Image of International Space Station

  • These astronauts are Indian-origin Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins & Victor Glover.
  • Astronauts will be carried from American soil onboard spacecraft developed by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX & Boeing Co to ISS, beginning in 2019.
  • These astronauts will 1st crew test flights & then missions involving both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner & SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Boeing CST-100 Starliner

  • Boeing CST-100 Starliner (Crew Space Transportation) crew capsule is spacecraft designed by Boeing as their entry for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. Its primary purpose is to transport crew to the International Space Station (ISS) and to private space stations such as the proposed Bigelow Aerospace Commercial Space Station

  • Boeing’s Starliner will launch aboard United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

  • Starliner was designed to accommodate 7 passengers, or mix of crew & cargo, for missions to low-Earth orbit.

  • It will carry up to 4 NASA-sponsored crew members & time-critical scientific research.

  • Starliner has innovative, weldless structure & is reusable up to 10 times w/6 month turnaround time. It features wireless internet & tablet technology for crew interfaces.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon

SpaceX’s next-generation spacecraft designed to carry humans to the International Space Station and other destinations.

  • Total Launch Payload Mass: 6,000kg, 13,228 lbs

  • Total Launch Payload Volume: 25m3 883 ft3

  • Spacecraft Payload Volume: 11m3 388 ft3

  • Trunk Payload Volume: 14m3 494 ft3

  • Total Return Payload Mass: 3,000kg, 6,614 lbs

  • Total Return Payload Volume: 11m3 388 ft3

  • Orbit Duration: Up to 2 Years

  • SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will launch aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Astronauts Named for Starliner First Mission

  • Josh Cassada

  • Sunita Williams

  • Josh Cassada will fly w/Sunita Williams aboard NASA’s 1st contracted Starliner mission.

  • It will be Cassada’s 1st spaceflight. Williams had previously logged 321 days in orbit on 2 stays aboard ISS & returned to Earth in 2012.

Astronauts Named for Crew Dragon First Mission

  • Victor Glover & Michael Hopkins will fly on 1st operational mission of SpaceX’s crewed Dragon.

  • Hopkins had logged 166 days aboard space station in 2014.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

  • Program aims to facilitate development of US commercial crew space transportation capability w/goal of achieving safe, reliable & cost-effective access to & from International Space Station & low-Earth orbit.

  • Public-private partnerships fostered by program will stimulate growth in robust commercial space industry & spark life-changing innovations for future generations.

  • Boeing’s & SpaceX’s commercial spacecraft test flight will open ISS to more privately-funded visitors & spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft & rockets.

  • Both vehicles were developed in cooperation w/NASA to deliver crew members to & from orbiting laboratory.

International Space Station

  • Launched in – 1998

  • ISS is the joint programme among 5 participating space agencies – NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA & CSA.

  • ISS was intended to be laboratory, observatory & factory in low earth orbit.

  • ISS was given additional roles of serving commercial, diplomatic & educational purposes.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX

  • Founded in – 2002

  • Headquarter – Howthorne, California

Mission - to revolutionize space technology, w/ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

- Published/Last Modified on: December 6, 2018

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