Boeing spacecraft commander abruptly pulls out of test flight mission

Katie Ramirez
October 9, 2020

Washington, Oct 8 (IANS) NASA and Boeing have announced changes for the inaugural crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner launching to the International Space Station in 2021 after Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson decided not to fly.

Developed to simulate an actual booth at the show, the exhibit will showcase the CST-100 Starliner Commercial Crew spacecraft; the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting laboratory; the Space Launch System (SLS) deep-space rocket; the X-37B spaceplane; and commercial and government satellites.

In this November 29, 2018 photo made available by NASA, Commercial Crew Program & Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Butch Wilmore, left, and Chris Ferguson participate in a flight control simulation for a Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

It's not very often that you hear about an astronaut pulling out of the chance to go to space, but that's precisely what NASA's Christopher Ferguson did on Wednesday. Elaborating, he said that 2021 is a "very important" year for his family as he's made "several important commitments that I simply can not risk missing".

Ferguson was expected to be the only Boeing staff member onboard the Starliner test flight, and he was to be signed up with by 2 NASA astronauts inside the pill on its first flight. I have made several commitments which I simply can not risk missing. "I'm not going anywhere".

Wilmore, along with NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Mike Finke, will fly the first crewed launch now scheduled for 2021 pending a successful uncrewed test mission.

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Former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson says he no longer plans to command the first-ever crewed mission of the Boeing Starliner, the spacecraft he's spent the last decade helping to build.

A Boeing spokeswoman confirmed one of the main factors in Ferguson's decision was that he didn't want to risk missing his daughter's wedding next year.

Beoing and NASA are looking at a late 2020 or early 2021 repeat of their uncrewed test flight. The auto was required to go back to Earth days ahead of schedule and without having actually docked with theInternational Space Station NASA and Boeing authorities invested months hashing out what failed and why the issue wasn't captured prior to Starliner introduced.

"I'm grateful to Chris for his exceptional leadership and insight into this very complex and most capable vehicle", Wilmore said.

SpaceX, meanwhile, plans to launch its second astronaut flight at the end of this month. Wilmore was already part of the mission backup crew, so he was already training for the flight in case he needed to participate in it.

NASA has turned over the job of ferrying astronauts, to and from the space station, to private companies.

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