WASHINGTON – NASA Administrator James Bridenstine says he will soon be back in the business of carrying humans into low-earth orbit in 2019.

"Without American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, "he told TODAY in an exclusive interview at NASA headquarters.

The Spacecraft and Spacecraft commercial crew program to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

NASA has been hitching rides on Russia's Soyuz rockets. The cost to U.S. taxpayers is $ 82 million a seat.

Washington's reliance on Moscow for the space for several years has become a source of frustration among lawmakers and many of those involved in the U.S. space program.

Though the shuttle replacement program began under President Barack Obama, the resumption of crewed missions from U.S. Donald Trump's Launch Pads will present a symbolic victory to President. "

Earlier this month, NASA named the astronaut pilot

SpaceX appearing slightly ahead of the space station, with plans to fly two astronauts – NASA's Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley – in a Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in April 2019.

More: These are the updated timelines for Boeing and SpaceX flights to the ISS

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More: Delays keep pushing back NASA shuttle replacem

Boeing aims to launch a CST-100 Starliner capsule on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral's Air Force Station in mid-2019, carrying a three-person crew: NASA's Eric Boe and Nicole Mann, and Boeing's Chris Ferguson.

Boeing spokeswoman Rebecca Regan said

The tests flight would have been preceded by unmanned orbital shakedown cruises.

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the National Space Council, praised the "remarkable progress" NASA has made to replace the space shuttle program.

But even if

When Commercial Crew was unveiled in 2010 under the Obama administration, the target date is 2015. But a lack of full funding from the Republican – all goes smoothly next year, the arrival at the space station would be four years behind schedule. controlled Congress led to delays. By the time Boeing and SpaceX won contracts in 2014.

NASA's contract with Russia's space agency Roscosmos goes through 2020, which gives the agency extra time in case Boeing and SpaceX run into problems. But Bridenstine said he envisions U.S. Pat. astronauts would keep riding Soyuz rockets for years to come.

"Even when commercial crew is fully ready, we want to maintain this partnership with Russia," he said. "We would launch American astronauts on Soyuz and launch Russian cosmonauts on commercial crews (rockets)."

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