NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps will be aboard the first Boeing crew mission to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for next year.
Epps is the third astronaut announced for the mission, alongside NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada. It will be Epp’s first spaceflight.
“I’m super excited to join name and name on the first operational Boeing crew mission to the international space station,” Epps said in a video posted to her Twitter account on Tuesday. “I’ve flown in helicopters with Sunita flying, and I’ve flown in the backseat of a T38 with Josh flying, and they are both wonderful people to work with, so I am looking forward to the mission.”
Epps comes from a background of seven years at the CIA as a technical intelligence officer and was selected as a member of the 2009 astronaut class.
Like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, the Boeing’s Starliner-1 is designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), but unlike the Crew Dragon, it has yet to do so.
Boeing is using virtual reality (VR) to train astronauts ahead of the Starliner crew capsule. VR allows an accurate, detailed representation of screens and displays the astronauts will encounter on the actual Starliner capsule and is integrated with a physical simulator called the Boeing Mission Simulator.
Boeing is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a public-private partnership combining NASA’s experience with new technology created by private companies to increase the availability of space travel. NASA estimates it will save as much as $30 billion by partnering with companies like Boeing and SpaceX to shuttle astronauts to and from the ISS. The program already succeeded in SpaceX’s recent mission to the ISS, which used SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
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