NASA just announced the 4 astronauts who'll jumpstart the mission that will take us to Mars

There’s been a lot of buzz about NASA’s goal to land the first humans on Mars by the 2030s, but who those people will be remained unknown.

Now, the day has come for NASA to announce the members of its latest Commercial Crew Program, the same program they have said will one day take us to Mars.

On Thursday, July 9, NASA announced that these four people will go down in history as the first astronauts of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

They are: Robert Behnken, Sunita Williams, Eric Boe, and Douglas Hurley.

The Commercial Crew Program is the successor to NASA’s 30-year-old Space Shuttle Program with the goal to once again send NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil. Once that feat is accomplished, we’ll be the closest to Mars we’ve been yet.

The new NASA astronauts will immediately begin training in preparation for their ride into space, which is currently slated for 2017.

After NASA’s Space Shuttle Program retired in 2011, NASA was forced to rely on Russia to send its astronauts into space. And it still does for $US76 million per seat. The agency’s new program will cut the cost by nearly a third, explains NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:

“On an American-owned spacecraft, the average cost will be $US58 million per astronaut,” he said in the NASA statement announcing the four astronauts.

In 2017, NASA hopes that companies like SpaceX and Boeing will launch this latest crew to the ISS.

Now learn more about the crew in these informative, yet brief, introduction videos:

Robert Behnken discusses the importance of NASA’s partnership with companies like SpaceX:

Sunita Williams says “this is the next step”:

Eric Boe talks about why he wanted to get involves with this program:

Douglas Hurley highlights the efforts of all involved:

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