Sunita Williams Set To Fly US' First Private Spaceships

Poorvi Gupta
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Sunita Williams

Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams is part of an elite group of nine astronauts named by NASA who are going to fly into space on commercial crew spacecraft, The Hindu reported. The group of astronauts has only two women -- Williams and Nicole Mann.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has finally put the crew in a commercial crew spacecraft after developing the vehicle for years. The Boeing Company and SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, built the new commercial spacecraft.

The crew comprises eight active astronauts and one astronaut-turned-corporate crew. They will launch on Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Dragoncapsules in the starting of 2019.

Since the space shuttle programme ended seven years ago, this will be the first crewed launches from US soil. The crew of astronauts consists of Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams. Apart from naming the crew, NASA also announced names of four astronauts who will fly aboard the first operational Starliner and Dragon missions to the International space station. NASA cooperated in the development of both the vehicles so that crew members can travel to and from the orbiting laboratory.

52-year-old Sunita Williams will fly with Josh Cassada (45) aboard Nasa's first contracted Starliner mission. While this is Cassada’s first spaceflight, Williams has earlier logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station.

The other female astronaut, Nicole Mann (41), will fly with astronaut Eric Boe, 53. They will join former astronaut and now Boeing executive Christopher Ferguson, 56, as the crew of the Starliner test flight. They will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

ALSO READ: Peggy Whitson Becomes The Oldest To Perform A Spacewalk

Picture credit- NASA

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