JAN 28, 2019 4:46 PM PST

An Astronaut for Boeing's First Crewed Rocket Launch Has Been Replaced by NASA

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It’s a big year for commercial space companies like Boeing and SpaceX; both have worked extraordinarily hard to bring crewed rocket launches back to American soil for the first time since 2011, and 2019 should finally be the year that they’ll get to witness the fruits of their efforts.

An artist's impression of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft in space after launch.

Image Credit: Boeing/NASA

Before either company gets the green light from NASA to move forward with a crewed rocket launch, they’ll first need to prove their flight capabilities by way of un-crewed launch tests. SpaceX’s demonstration launch is expected to transpire by next month, while Boeing’s demonstration launch is pegged for some time ‘this Spring.’

Related: Boeing wants to race SpaceX to Mars

But while both companies prepare for the big launch day, NASA appears to have thrown an unexpected wrench in the original plan. The American space agency removed Eric Boe, an astronaut who spent more than three years of his life training to fly on Boeing’s first official crewed launch, with someone else.

Unspecified medical reasons seem to be at the foot of NASA’s decision, but it wouldn’t take much to become disqualified from consideration. Strict health protocols limit NASA’s astronaut selection to only the healthiest human specimens around.

But what of Boe’s replacement? It appears that NASA has chosen Mike Fincke, an experienced space station commander with 382 days in space accumulated under his belt over four separate missions. Fincke has also performed nine different spacewalks throughout his space-centric career.

This is astronaut Mike Fincke. He will replace Eric Boe on Boeing's first crewed mission this year.

Image Credit: NASA

While it’s undoubtedly unfortunate to Boe and his fans that he won’t get to be a part of Boeing’s first crewed flight later this year, NASA’s second choice has been met with a broadly-positive response. Fincke brings years’ worth of experience to the table, a valuable thing to have in a high-stress scenario like this one.

“Eric Boe is awesome; it would have been an honor to fly with him again to the International Space Station,” responded Christopher Ferguson, one of the astronauts that will fly on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test later this year. “The Starliner team is bummed that he isn’t making this trip. Mike Fincke brings years of experience and Nicole Mann, and I are glad to have him as a part of our crew.”

Related: Watch SpaceX fly a Tesla Roadster into space with its Falcon Heavy rocket

Despite all these changes on Boeing’s side of things, everything remains the same on SpaceX’s end. In fact, SpaceX just recently test-fired the engines of the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used on the company’s first un-crewed launch next month, symbolizing the company's readiness as the deadline approaches.

These launches represent a critical step forward in the United States’ space industry as NASA moves away from its dependence on the Russian Soyuz platform for space science and research. With a little luck, perhaps everything will go as planned, and the United States can perform space research without relying on other nations to get us there.

Source: NASA, Christopher Ferguson (Twitter), Wired

About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 15, 2022
Grad Student Highlights: Trupti Mahendrakar (Florida Institute of Technology)
Grad Student Highlights: Trupti Mahendrakar (Florida Institute of Technology)
Trupti Mahendrakar is a PhD student in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering at the Florida Instit ...
OCT 19, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Return of the Zombie Bacteria
Return of the Zombie Bacteria
Bacterial cells may shut down for many reasons. But how do they know when to wake up? Researchers have found the answer.
OCT 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Supercomputer Divulges Immediate Formation of Moon
Supercomputer Divulges Immediate Formation of Moon
Numerous theories have evolved over the years as to how the Earth’s Moon came to be, with one early theory suggest ...
NOV 10, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Hey Star, Want to Look Younger? Get Yourself a Hot Jupiter!
Hey Star, Want to Look Younger? Get Yourself a Hot Jupiter!
A new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society finds that “hot Jupiter” exop ...
NOV 26, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Could We Find Life in Caves Off Earth?
Could We Find Life in Caves Off Earth?
In two connected studies published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, “Fundamental Science and Engin ...
DEC 20, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Have Found the Best Evidence of "Water Worlds" To Date
Astronomers Have Found the Best Evidence of "Water Worlds" To Date
A recent paper published in Nature Astronomy presents a detailed study of the planetary system Kepler-138 and has found ...
Loading Comments...