The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Friday (local time) announced the names of the first astronauts to fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station.
The agency assigned nine astronauts, including Sunita Williams, to crew the first test flight, who according to Mark Geyer, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, "are at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight."
"It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can't wait to see them aboard the International Space Station," he added.
The first nine astronauts include-- Eric Boe, Christopher Ferguson, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Josh Cassada, Sunita Williams, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins.
Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's international partners at a later date.
As per NASA, it is an endeavour which will return astronaut launches to the United States soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.
"Today, our country's dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
"This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight. Today's announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation's leadership in space," he added.
NASA's Commercial Crew Program is facilitating the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.