Astronauts Will Do The Driving

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AmericaSpace Note This should come as no surprise to anyone; astronauts want to be in command and piloting, not passengers in, any commercial spacecraft they fly in, according to Peggy Whitson, head of NASA’s Astronaut Office.

As reported by Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Mark Carreau in Astronauts Prefer To Drive Their Own Ferries, during this week’s hearing of the Space Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC), chaired by Eileen Collins, Astronaut Chief Peggy Whitson reported that the astronaut office would prefer to treat commercial spacecraft as a rental rather than a taxi. That is, the astronauts want to do the driving, not sit in back while commercial astronauts pilot the spacecraft.

The hearing brought up the many issues that are just now coming to the fore when working out the logistics of who does what in flying NASA astronauts on commercial spacecraft. As AvWeek notes,

“The Operations panel reconvened with the NAC’s seven-member Commercial Space Committee at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on Sept. 14, a day after hearing Whitson’s presentation. The two-day joint session revealed just how far NASA and its prospective commercial providers must go to clarify a range of key issues, including human-ratings standards, procurement, agency insight and oversight of spacecraft development and fabrication as well as flight certification and operations.”

The perennial unk-unk’s are always looming out there.

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