Robert Z. Pearlman / Space.com
HOUSTON — Jim Bridenstine wants to make sure that there is never another day when humans are not in space.
“In fact,” the NASA administrator said, “we want lots of humans in space.”
Bridenstine, who became the space agency’s chief in April, recently sat down with Space.com and other reporters during a visit to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, during which he shared what he saw as his priority for NASA going forward. [These 9 Astronauts Will Fly the 1st Flights on SpaceX and Boeing Spaceships]
“When you look back at history, look back at the end of the Apollo program, 1972 when we didn’t go back to the moon… you look back and there was a period of time there after Apollo and before the space shuttles when we had a gap of human spaceflight capability,” Bridenstine said. “And then you go forward and look at the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011, and now we’re getting to the point where we’re ready to fly commercial crew. We’ve got a gap of about eight years in our ability to fly crew into space.
David Szondy / New Atlas
NASA has released the names of the first nine US astronauts for the first four manned, commercial space flights. A mixture of ex-Space Shuttle crews and test pilots, the nine men and women will be the first to ride on an American-made and flagged spacecraft since the Shuttle was retired in 2011, and will act as crew on the first two test flights and the first two mission flights to the International Space Station (!SS).
The space agency’s August 3 announcement is the latest step in the United States’ return to a manned spaceflight program. Since the last Space Shuttle mission, STS-135, landed at the Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 2011, NASA has been completely dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry crews to the ISS. To return manned launches to American territory, the US government has encouraged private firms to develop and operate complete space launch systems to send astronauts and cargo to the space station and return them to Earth.
SpaceX will launch two new Earth-observing satellites for NASA and five commercial communications satellites today (May 22) in a rideshare mission that you can watch live online.
NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission and five Iridium Next communications satellites will lift off on a used Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 3:47 p.m. EDT (12:47 p.m. PDT, 1947 GMT). You can watch the launch live here at Space.com and on our homepage, starting at 3:15 p.m. EDT (12:15 p.m. PDT, 1915 GMT), courtesy of a NASA TV webcast…lees verder