NASA changes crew for Boeing commercial crew test flight

Pablo Tucker
January 25, 2019

Fincke is a seasoned replacement, having completed three space trips since joining the NASA in 1996.

NASA astronaut Eric Boe has been removed from the test flight of Boeing's Starliner crew transport spacecraft-which is scheduled for no earlier than August 2019-because of a "medical issue".

Boeing's Starliner is being developed as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program-an initiative where the space agency is collaborating with the American aerospace industry "to develop and operate a new generation off spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station".

In August 2018, Boe was officially selected to fly the Boeing Starliner crew test flight.

NASA says a medical issue is forcing a switch in the crew for the Boeing Starliner space taxi's first crewed test flight to the International Space Station, now scheduled for no earlier than August. He replaces astronaut Eric Boe, who will not fly for medical reasons, NASA said.

Astronaut Eric Boe was dismissed Tuesday from the upcoming take off for unspecified medical causes, after more than three years of coaching.

Boe will take over Fincke's role as assistant to the chief for commercial crew operations in the astronaut office at the Johnson Space Center. Additionally, he was a mission specialist for the STS-134 crew in 2011. However, before that happens, NASA will ensure that the new spacecraft is safe and ready for operational missions by first performing an unmanned orbital flight test in March.

If successful, Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, reportedly due to make its first launch - unmanned - on February 9, will mark the first time in history NASA has sent astronauts to space on systems "owned, built, tested and operated by private companies".

Four years later, Fincke launched to space for the second time as Commander of Expedition 18.

During Expedition 9, Fincke performed four spacewalks, or EVAs (Extravehicular Activities), in support of future Space Station construction and operations activities. The latter flight was the last mission of the shuttle Discovery before its retirement, as the shuttle program wound down.

Fincke will begin training immediately alongside NASA's Nicole Mann and Boeing's Chris Ferguson, who were both assigned to the mission in August 2018.

Now available schedules from NASA show this mission launching No Earlier Than (NET) August 2019 - though it is expected to slip deeper into 2019.

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