Published: Fri, January 25, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA announces test flight crew change for Boeing's Starliner

NASA announces test flight crew change for Boeing's Starliner

Selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 1996, Fincke was first assigned to the International Space Station Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) arena at the Johnson Space Center and also served as a Crew Test Support Team member in Russian Federation for Expeditions 4 and 6. Instead, NASA astronaut E. Michael "Mike" Fincke will have Boe's place.

"He previously served as an International Space Station flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 9, and commanded the station on Expedition 18", said the space agency.

"We welcome NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who brings almost two-and-a-half decades of spaceflight experience, to the Boeing Starliner team", a Boeing spokesperson said.

NASA is replacing one of the astronauts appointed to fly on the first crewed test launch of the CST-100 Starliner, a capsule being developed by Boeing to take passengers to the International Space Station.

The announcement came via the agency's website, noting that Eric Boe, a two-time Space Shuttle astronaut, was no longer assigned to the CST-100 Starliner test mission. He also visited the station in 2011 during STS-134, the shuttle Endeavour's final mission.

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That crew change prompted questions of exactly why she was removed from the mission; as a rule, NASA does not discuss crew assignments - or reassignments as the case may be - and never divulges exactly why certain astronauts are chosen and others are not. Taking his seat will be Mike Fincke, a former space station commander. To date, the Pennsylvania native has spent 382 days in space and performed nine space walks.

In any case, Boe's removal is believed to mark only the fifth time in USA space program history that an astronaut has been pulled from a space flight assignment.

Fincke carries plenty of spaceflight experience, as this will be his fourth trip to space. They had been on the same shuttle flight in 2008 throughout station building.

A high-profile case occurred past year when NASA removed astronaut Jeanette Epps from her mission to the International Space Station (ISS.) Epps-who would have become the first African American to be part of a long-term mission on the ISS-has said that she still doesn't understand the reasons for her reassignment. However, NASA's contract with Roscosmos is expected to expire in November 2019.

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