Autor Wątek: [SpaceNews] NASA changes crew for Boeing commercial crew test flight  (Przeczytany 222 razy)

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NASA changes crew for Boeing commercial crew test flight
by Jeff Foust — January 22, 2019

Eric Boe (left) with Nicole Mann and Chris Ferguson in August 2018, when they were announced as the crew for the CST-100 Starliner crewed test flight. Boe has been replaced by fellow NASA astronaut Mike Fincke. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

WASHINGTON — NASA announced Jan. 22 that it is replacing an astronaut who was scheduled to fly on a commercial crew test flight later this year because of a medical issue.

The agency said that Eric Boe has been taken off the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner crewed test flight, and will be replaced by veteran NASA astronaut Mike Fincke. Boe will take over Fincke’s previous position as assistant to the chief of the astronaut office for commercial crew.

In its statement, NASA said only that Boe would no longer be able to fly on the Starliner test flight “due to medical reasons.” The other two people assigned to the flight, NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, now a test pilot for Boeing, will remain on the flight.

Boe, 54, joined the NASA astronaut corps in 2000 and flew on two shuttle flights, STS-126 in 2008 and STS-133 in 2011. The latter flight was the last mission of the shuttle Discovery before its retirement, as the shuttle program wound down.

Fincke, 51, joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1996. He flew on two long-duration missions to the International Space Station on Soyuz spacecraft in 2004 and 2008–2009, as well as the final flight of the shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, in 2011. Fincke spent 381 days in space on those three missions, including more than 48 hours of EVA time on nine spacewalks.

NASA announced the original crew assignments for the CST-100 Starliner test flight and for a separate SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight in August. The agency also announced at the time crews for the first operational missions for those vehicles.

The latest schedule for commercial crew test flights calls for Boeing to perform an uncrewed test flight of Starliner in March, followed by the crewed test flight in August. NASA, in its statement announcing the change in crews, said only that the crewed test flight is scheduled for “later this year.”

The uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is now scheduled for February, NASA announced Jan. 10. That launch, previously scheduled for Jan. 17, was delayed to provide additional time “to complete hardware testing and joint reviews,” the agency said then. The Falcon 9 that will launch the spacecraft arrived at the Launch Complex 39A Jan. 22 for a static fire test expected as soon as Jan. 23. The crewed test flight will follow no earlier than June.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA changes crew for Boeing commercial crew test flight
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Styczeń 23, 2019, 17:21 »
Fincke Joins Starliner Test Flight, Commercial Crew Stands Ready for 2019 Debut
By Ben Evans, on January 23rd, 2019 [AmericaSpace]

Mike Fincke, pictured during STS-134 in May 2011, has served for several years as head of the Commercial Crew Branch of the Astronaut Office and most recently as assistant to the chief for Commercial Crew. Photo Credit: NASA

Yesterday’s announcement by NASA that astronaut Eric Boe has been removed from the inaugural piloted test-flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner—tentatively scheduled to launch in August—came as a surprising blow for a veteran shuttle flyer who had been intimately involved in the Commercial Crew Program for several years. Boe was initially assigned to work with Boeing and SpaceX back in July 2015, alongside fellow astronauts Sunita Williams, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, and in August 2018 was named as part of a three-member crew for the CST-100 test-flight. His replacement is seasoned shuttle and ISS veteran Mike Fincke and the pair will exchange duties, as Boe assumes the mantle of assistant to the chief for Commercial Crew in the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas.

The news of the CST-100 crew change came only hours before SpaceX prepared to perform a Static Fire Test of the nine Merlin 1D+ first-stage engines of its Upgraded Falcon 9. The 230-foot-tall (70-meter) booster was rolled-out to historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) earlier this week. After the static fire test has been completed, another hurdle will have been cleared in readiness for a mid-February launch of the first unpiloted Crew Dragon.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is depicted here climbing to orbit. After an unpiloted test-flight, possibly as soon as March, it is expected that the first crewed mission could occur in August. Image Credit: Boeing

As is customary in such cases, NASA revealed only that Boe had been removed from the flight “due to medical reasons” and it remains to be seen if the retired Air Force colonel—who piloted shuttle Endeavour on STS-126 in November 2008 and also piloted shuttle Discovery’s swansong mission, STS-133 in early 2011—will remain eligible for future assignments.

Boe, of course, is not the first astronaut to be removed from a formal mission assignment for medical reasons. Project Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton was pulled from his Earth-orbital flight in March 1962, due to heart-rhythm irregularities, whilst America’s first man in space, Al Shepard, was removed from command of the first piloted Gemini when he experienced the first symptoms of an inner-ear condition which left him grounded. Mike Collins might have flown around the Moon on Apollo 8 in December 1968, had he not been grounded for neck surgery earlier that year, an eventuality which eventually caused him to wind up on the prime crew of historic Apollo 11. And, most famous of all, in April 1970 Apollo 13 crewman Ken Mattingly was pulled from his crew two days before launch, following exposure to a suspected case of German measles.

Eric Boe (second from left) was selected in July 2015, alongside Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken and Sunita Williams to work alongside Boeing and SpaceX on Commercial Crew operations. Photo Credit: NASA/James Blair

More recently, shuttle commander John Creighton came down with a heavy cold in February 1990, only days before launching on STS-36, a situation which later prompted NASA to assign a backup crew to the time-critical Ulysses mission later that year. A decade later, Christopher “Gus” Loria was dropped from the pilot’s slot on STS-113, following an accident at home and Carlos Noriega—named to STS-121—was pulled after only six months, due to a temporary medical condition. And within the last few years, shuttle astronaut Tim Kopra was removed from STS-133 after a biking accident and Karen Nyberg relinquished her position on STS-132 due to pregnancy. It remains unclear if last year’s withdrawal of Jeanette Epps from Expedition 56/57 was also a medically-related incident.

Boe’s replacement aboard the CST-100 Starliner will be the United States’ fourth most experienced astronaut, Mike Fincke, whose 382-day cumulative spaceflight log already includes two six-month International Space Station (ISS) increments, a place aboard STS-134, the final voyage of shuttle Endeavour, and nine spacewalks. Fincke was named as head of the Commercial Crew Branch of the Astronaut Office in 2015, before taking up his most recent post as assistant to the chief for Commercial Crew in 2018.

Boeing spacecraft technicians working on the CST-100 Starliner which will launch on the company’s first crewed orbital flight test later this year. Photo: Mike Killian /

The new year promises to be an exciting one for Commercial Crew, as Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon stand primed for an unpiloted test-flight apiece, a crewed test-flight apiece, and possibly an initial “operational” mission to the ISS before the close of 2019. The Upgraded Falcon 9 booster carrying the unpiloted Crew Dragon was raised to the vertical on Pad 39A earlier in January, with an expectation that after its imminent Static Fire Test a launch could occur as soon as 16 February.

During the course of its two weeks in space, the Crew Dragon systems will be extensively tested, prior to the crewed test-flight as early as July with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard. As for Boeing, its first unpiloted CST-100 Starliner—riding the first Dual-Engine Centaur (DEC), atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.—is provisionally scheduled for March, after which the crewed test-flight by Fincke, fellow NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and former shuttle commander and current Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson may occur in August. This leaves open a possibility that “operational” Crew Dragon and CST-100 missions might occur in August and December, transporting long-duration crewmembers uphill to the space station.