Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann to have a new ride to the space
NASA announces sending two astronauts on early missions of Boeing’s troop capsule; will instead travel to orbit with SpaceX. NASA agency has reassigned astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann to mission SpaceX’s Crew-5, which is predicted to launch towards the International Space Station at the start of 2022.
Cassada and Mann were on training in the CST-100 Starliner capsule by Boeing, with Mann preparing for the spacecraft’s first crewed test flight to the orbiting lab and Cassada preparing for the spacecraft’s first operational mission.
However, it’s uncertain when either of those Boeing missions will take place; Starliner must first complete an uncrewed test journey to the space station before carrying humans. In December 2019, the capsule attempted its first testing flight, nevertheless, multiple difficulties hampered a planned rendezvous with the orbiting lab. Boeing had planned to perform Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) in late July this year but identified an issue with some valves in Starliner’s system.
According to NASA officials, the valve problem remains unsettled, and OFT-2 could be postponed till 2022. Meanwhile, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule have already conducted one crewed test mission and two operational flights to the orbiting lab, and the company is preparing to launch its third contracted voyage, Crew-3, later this month. (Commercial Crew of NASA Program has multibillion-dollar contracts and both belonging to SpaceX and Boeing, which were recorded in 2014.)
“NASA determined that making these reassignments was critical to allowing Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing preparations for astronauts to earn spaceflight experience for future needs of the agency’s missions,” officials of NASA said in a statement today. Updates on other astronauts will be given later, they said.
Mann and Cassada will be making their maiden space journey on Crew-5
Continuing the same statement, Mann said that training on a brand-new spaceship, the Boeing Starliner, has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was amazing to work with the Boeing team. She was ecstatic to be able to train on yet another new spaceship, the SpaceX Crew Dragon, and was grateful to the NASA personnel who made it possible. She was ready to go to the International Space Station and serve there, said Cassada.
“Cross-training on both programmes is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn while also providing invaluable knowledge to future astronauts flying these spacecraft, stated Josh in the same statement. For sure Nicole and I are both overjoyed to start working aboard the International Space Station, where we will be assisting with present operations as well as contributing to future exploration beyond low Earth orbit, he exclaimed in joy.