The research taking place on the International Space Station is providing valuable information and breakthroughs for life on the ground.
Once the first crewed test flights are complete, two more crews will fly on Crew Dragon and Starliner for long-duration missions to the space station.
Since then, they have been in a race to see which company would fly first in what's become a sort of modern-day space race. Ferguson is a former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander who now works on Boeing's Starliner program. Mann is a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and pilot of the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, while Boe is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who was a test pilot on the Boeing F-15.
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, will fly together as SpaceX's first Dragon crew.
"It's absolutely the opportunity of a lifetime", said Mann. He is a Navy commander, aviator and test pilot with nearly 3,000 hours flying more than 40 different aircraft.
"The men and women we assign to these first flights are at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight", Mark Geyer, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston said in a statement. "We take it seriously". The four other commercial crew members are still with NASA. She then served two combat tours, flying 47 combat missions in F/A-18s (a United States combat jet) as a fighter pilot over Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a Navy commander and test pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft. Williams has already spent more than 300 days in space.
"It is going to be a proud moment for America", Mann said.
Chris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut who has worked with Boeing as it developed its Starliner spacecraft, will fly as a private astronaut. Williams came to NASA from the Navy, where she was a test pilot and rose to the rank of captain before retiring. In 2013 and 2014, Hopkins spent almost six months aboard the ISS, logging almost 13 hours of spacewalks.
In 2014, SpaceX and Boeing received contracts for $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, to develop space capsules that can ferry astronauts to and from the space station.
The space agency has reason to be eager.
- After a seven-year hiatus, American astronauts will once again go to space from the U.S.
Over the past several years, NASA has pushed the private sector to maintain a presence in low-Earth orbit.
Last week, Boeing confirmed that it had a problem with its launch-abort system, which is created to ferry crews to safety in the event of an emergency.
After successful completion of the flight tests with crew, NASA will review flight data to verify the systems meet the agency's safety and performance certification requirements.
Delays are normal, especially when trying to make spacecraft safe and reliable, but the companies' rosy projections despite expected snafus have drawn criticism. SpaceX aims to launch an uncrewed test flight in November of this year, with a Boeing test flight scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019.
Boeing Rotocraft Systems issued the following announcement on August 3.