NASA has named nine astronauts for the first manned space launches from U.S. soil since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011.
The announcement is a milestone in the U.S. space programme, with its shift to the private sector for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.
Up to now, NASA has had to rely on Russia to fly them there. The new astronauts will travel on a spacecraft developed by entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing Co, crewing first the test flights, and then missions involving both Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon.
President Donald Trump said in a tweet that they had the " the greatest facilities in the world and are now letting the private sector pay to use them."
NASA says its critical to understanding the challenges of long-duration space flight, for a sustainable presence on the Moon and for deep-space missions, including to Mars.