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NASA's Commercial Crew astronauts. From left: Suni Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover. Credit: NASA

At a news conference at the Johnson Space Center in Texas, NASA announced the astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of commercial spaceflight launches, aboard the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, .

Why it matters: These crew members will be the first American astronauts to launch to space aboard rockets made in America, from American soil since the U.S. retired the Space Shuttle in 2011.

The big picture: Since 2011, NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets to send its astronauts to the International Space Station. The new missions are part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which is comprised of partnerships with Boeing and SpaceX.

The announcement marks a new era in American space exploration, in which the federal government relies on commercial space companies to launch its astronauts.

"Space has transformed American life," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in announcing the new NASA crews. "Our investment in American space exploration always pays back... multiple folds in terms of the human condition."

"This is a big deal, and we want Americans to know that we're back, that we're flying American rockets with American astronauts from American soil."
— Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator

The details: NASA announced crews for two test flights, including the Boeing test flight crew and SpaceX flight test crew. It also revealed crews for the first missions to the Space Station aboard both Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft.

"I couldn't be more excited to be a part of the NASA-Boeing team... It's gonna be a proud moment for America," said NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann, who is a F-18 test pilot and will conduct her first spaceflight aboard the first crewed test flight of the Boeing Starliner.

NASA partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner spacecraft to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Crew Dragon to launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

Boeing’s crew flight test is targeted to launch in mid-2019, and SpaceX’s demo mission 2 aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft is targeted for launch in April 2019.

Go deeper: Read more about NASA's Commercial Crew Program astronauts.

Go deeper

54 mins ago - Technology

TikTok drives new nostalgia economy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as younger consumers desperately chase slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok's algorithm makes it easy for flashback items to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and eventually on other social networks.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

6 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.