NASA Astronaut Pulls Out of Boeing Starliner Space Trip
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.
The experienced astronaut announced in a video posted on Twitter that he’s decided not to take his place alongside two colleagues for Boeing’s first crewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft next year, citing family commitments.
Ferguson, a three-time Space Shuttle veteran, described the decision as a “difficult” one. Elaborating, he said that 2021 is a “very important” year for his family as he’s made “several important commitments that I simply cannot risk missing.”
I’m taking on a new mission, one that keeps my feet planted here firmly on Earth and prioritizes my most important crew – my family. I’ll still be working hard with the #Starliner team and the @NASA_Astronauts on our crew. pic.twitter.com/PgdhPqwYQS
— Christopher Ferguson (@Astro_Ferg) October 7, 2020
In additional comments published by Boeing, the astronaut said: “I have full confidence in the Starliner vehicle, the men and women building and testing it, and the NASA astronauts who will ultimately fly it. The Boeing team has taken all lessons from our first uncrewed orbital flight test to heart, and is making Starliner one of the safest new crewed spacecraft ever fielded.”
Of course, Ferguson’s departure from the flight crew line-up frees up space for someone else to hop aboard.
The lucky person is another veteran astronaut — Barry “Butch” Wilmore — who has been selected by NASA to fly on the Starliner for the upcoming crewed flight test, along with astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke.
“Stepping down was a difficult decision for Chris, but with his leadership and assistance to this point, this crew is positioned for success,” Wilmore said in response to the crew