The Indian American is among nine astronauts assigned for Boeing and SpaceX missions.
On Friday, NASA released the first list of astronauts who will fly on commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, and among them is Indian American Sunita Williams.
She and eight other colleagues will crew the first test flight and mission of two private space crafts, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which will mark the return of space launches to US soil after the retirement of space shuttles in 2011.
Williams tweeted on Friday: “Who will get to PMA2 first for a long duration mission to ISS! We will be ready when Dragon and Starliner will be ready!”
PMA is the pressurized mating adapter that is used for berthing spacecraft with the Space Station.
Who will get to PMA2 first for a long duration mission to ISS! We will be ready when Dragon and Starliner will be ready! pic.twitter.com/i9MK7RxZ99
— Sunita Williams (@Astro_Suni) August 3, 2018
“Today, our country’s dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said announcing the list. “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.”
Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said Williams and other astronauts assigned are “at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight” and it “will be thrilling to see” them “lift off from American soil, and we can’t wait to see them aboard the International Space Station.”
Williams will be part of Starliner’s first mission, along with Navy commander and test pilot Josh Cassada, who will be flying to space for the first time.
The lightweight CST (Crew Space Transportation)-100 Starliner, developed by Boeing and NASA, can take seven passengers for missions to low-earth orbit. According to Boeing, the Starliner can be reused up to 10 times with a six-month turnaround time.
Williams, who was born in Euclid, Ohio, and raised in Needham, Massachusetts, is a former Navy test pilot. First selected as an astronaut in 1998, the space veteran has spent 322 days aboard Space Station for Expeditions and performed seven spacewalks, according to NASA.