Space

NASA has chosen the “Commercial Crew Nine”: the first humans who will go to space on rockets produced by private spaceflight companies.

Some background: The last time humans went to space from the US was July 2011, aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. Since then, every nation on Earth has relied on Russia to get to the International Space Station.

The news: On Friday, NASA revealed the nine astronauts that will fly on Boeing and SpaceX’s first crewed launches. Assuming the test flights go according to plan, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first to fly on SpaceX’s Dragon in April 2019, and Eric Boe, Nicole Aunapu Mann, and Chris Ferguson will be the first people to fly aboard the Boeing Starliner in mid-2019.

It’s getting real: The test launches of these rockets will be some of the most anticipated since the end of the shuttle program—success would cement the private space industry in the annals of crewed space exploration.

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