NASA announced on Thursday the names of the first astronauts chosen to fly commercial space flights.
Sending commercial flights to space is “all part of our ambitious plan to return space launches to U.S. soil, create good-paying American jobs and advance our goal of sending humans farther into the solar system than ever before,” said NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a release.
Robert Behnken, Sunita Williams, Eric Boe and Douglas Hurley, the four chosen astronauts, “are blazing a new trail, a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars,” Bolden continued.
Through the commercial crew program, NASA has invited private companies to compete for contracts to send supplies and, eventually, humans to the International Space Station. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, working on one such NASA contract, launched an ISS-bound rocket on June 28 that exploded shortly after takeoff.