Indian origin US astronaut Sunita Williams will be part of the first ever commercial flight mission to the space, which aims at opening the window for humans to travel to space.
The National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA), has chosen Indian-origin, US based astronaut Sunita Williams among eight others to fly the first ever commercially developed space mission.
A collaboration between Elon Musk owned SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and global aviation firm Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, the mission is part of the US space agency’s Commercial Crew Programme to send humans to the International Space Station (ISS) on private US spacecraft.
In 2014, NASA had awarded USD 6.8 billion to Boeing and SpaceX to develop the spacecraft.
The Boeing programme to the ISS, will be the first test flight scheduled to take place in the middle of 2019. The mission will be the first manned space launched from the US soil since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011.
“For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Space X Crew Dragon’s first unmanned demonstration mission (Demo-1) is being scheduled for November 2018. The crewed demonstration flight, with two astronauts on board, will follow in April 2019.
On the other hand, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, will perform two crucial test flights only in 2019. The test flights will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the safety of systems.
In the flights that will be manned- Boeing’s Crew Flight Test and SpaceX’s Demo-2- each will include a commander and pilot to test out the systems. The NASA will then review flight data to verify if the systems meet the agency’s safety and performance certification requirements and are ready to begin regular servicing missions to the space station, the US space agency said in a statement.
As per the statement, Williams has spent 322 days in ISS for Expeditions 14/15 and Expeditions 32/33, has commanded the space station and performed seven spacewalks.
Popularly known as Suni, Williams was born in Euclid (Ohio) and joined NASA in 1998 after her time in the navy, where she formerly was a test pilot and then captain. She has been twice aboard ISS and also holds the record for most spacewalk time by a woman.