Friday, 22 February, 2019


NASA swaps out astronauts for first manned flight on Boeing's new ship

Mike Fincke Eric Boe, NASA astronaut, pulled from upcoming flight due to medical issues
Kristine Garrett | 25 January, 2019, 20:51

Nasa astronaut Mike Fincke has been added to the crew.

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".

After these test flights, the Starliner will be certified by NASA for regular flights to the ISS.

NASA has named astronaut Michael Fincke, shown here on the space shuttle Endeavour in 2011, as a replacement crewmember on the first crewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner CST-100 spacecraft later this year. He replaced Eric Boe who was assigned to the mission in August a year ago. He returned as a mission specialist for the STS-134 crew on space shuttle Endeavour's final mission. That flight, known as Demonstration Mission-1 or DM-1, would be followed in the June time frame by a crewed DM-2 test flight with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley.

Before either SpaceX's Crew Dragon or Boeing's Starliner are allowed to carry a crew, both companies will showcase the capabilities of their hardware with unmanned test flights which will be closely monitored by NASA.

Fincke launched on the two-person Expedition 9 mission on 18 April 2004 - when Station operations were restricted to just two crewmembers in the wake of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident. During that mission, Fincke broke the previous US record for longest time in space. To date, the Pennsylvania native has spent 382 days in space and performed nine space walks. Assuming the tests go as planned, SpaceX and Boeing would proceed with regular space taxi flights to and from the station.

Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe (above), originally assigned to the mission in August 2018.

Fincke has amassed a total of 381 days 15 hours 11 minutes in space and has 48 hours 37 minutes of spacewalk experience to his name. 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.

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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