WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Astronaut Chris Ferguson gave up his position as commander on Boeing’s first crewed space flight, prioritizing family and important commitments he “cannot risk missing.”
- One of those commitments was confirmed to be his daughter’s wedding.
- Veteran astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore will be taking Ferguson’s place as commander of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft.
Boeing scheduled their first test flight to space next year. However, astronaut Chris Ferguson, who was supposed to be the commander of the flight, made the “difficult and personal” decision to give up the opportunity.
Ferguson, 59, posted a video to his Twitter account, announced the news, remaining mostly general and only saying that he made the decision because he is prioritizing his family and important commitments he “simply cannot risk missing”.
A Boeing spokesperson confirmed that one of those commitments is his daughter’s wedding. Ferguson assured that he remains “deeply committed to human spaceflight” as well as “dedicated to the Starliner Program.”
Designed to carry seven passengers or crew and cargo to the International Space Station to conduct “time-critical scientific research”, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner is a spacecraft developed with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The pioneer unpiloted test flight was launched in December 2019. However, software issues prevented the spacecraft from reaching the ISS. In a later press release, NASA announced that the Commercial Crew Program planned to conduct another unpiloted test flight no earlier than December 2020. If everything goes as planned, an official crewed mission may blast off as early as June 2021.
Ferguson has been “an integral part of the Starliner program” since 2011, prompting his role of commander for the crewed mission. He also journeyed to space three times before joining the Starliner team. He will still play a part in the mission by instead serving as the director of Mission Integration and Operations.
Barry “Butch” Wilmore, veteran astronaut, will serve as the Starliner’s commander in place of Ferguson.