Sunita Williams among Quartet Selected To Test Fly Commercial Spacecraft
Sunita Williams among Quartet Selected To Test Fly Commercial Spacecraft

The American space agency NASA announced the name of four astronauts who will be the first to fly test flights of commercial spacecraft. The team said that as of now they haven't come up with a more media-savvy name for them.

The four astronauts announced by NASA include Sunita Williams, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken and Eric Boe.

The label, Commercial Crew Cadre, as of now fits for the team seeing the tasks they'll be doing over the next few years, said Air Force Col. Robert Behnken, head of the astronaut office.

It has been said the astronauts will be flying aboard spacecrafts built by two private companies including Boeing and SpaceX. The companies are still busy developing the crew capsules that will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The United States has not made any launch since Atlantis blasted off on the final shuttle mission in 2011. The success of this mission will end US reliance on Russia for the space missions.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, "These distinguished, veteran 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".

According to astronaut Eric Boe, an Air Force colonel, the first test flight with one or more of them on board is targeted for 2017.

Sunita Williams, 49, is the most experienced astronaut of the quartet. Williams is a Navy captain and helicopter pilot who has already spent nearly a year or 322 days in space.

Williams even holds a record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut at 50 hours and 40 minutes, NASA said.