SpaceX: First flight of Dragon to be all-NASA crew
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — On Thursday, July 9, NASA announced the first four U.S. astronauts that have been tapped to conduct the first flights of commercial spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Under this initiative, SpaceX and Boeing must conduct a crewed test flight with at least one NASA astronaut on board. SpaceX has confirmed a report that appeared on the social media website Facebook that it has opted to go with an all-NASA crew (2 astronauts) on this important test flight.
NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley, and Sunita Williams have been selected as the astronauts who will conduct the test flights of Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s crewed Dragon spacecraft.
SpaceX could have opted to just send one NASA astronaut along with one SpaceX astronaut (per the milestones listed under CCP).
SpaceX has already made progress toward having astronauts use Dragon as a means to travel to the International Space Station with seven of the automated versions of the spacecraft already having ventured into the black and arriving at the orbiting laboratory. The Hawthorne, California-based firm has also tested out the abort capabilities of their crewed Dragon spacecraft, during the May 6, 2015, Pad Abort Test conducted at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.