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An Astronaut for Boeing's First Crewed Rocket Launch Has Been Replaced by NASA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
JAN 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 26, 2020
How Much Do You Know About the Planet Mercury?
Mercury is the solar system’s smallest planet, and it’s also the one residing closest to the Sun. But while ...
JAN 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 27, 2020
How Dangerous is Radiation on Mars?
One of humankind’s most ambitious goals for the next decade is preparing to send astronauts to Mars for the very f ...
FEB 25, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 25, 2020
What Would Happen if We Sent a Spacecraft Into the Sun?
In 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe to get its closest look at the Sun yet. The probe gets as close as about 6 ...
MAR 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 01, 2020
Astronomers Say it Was the Biggest Explosion Detected Since the Big Bang
When you’re an astronomer, you come to grips with the fact that the job involves a lot of waiting and watching as ...
MAR 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 22, 2020
Critical Sample Handling Equipment is Installed on the Perseverance Rover
It was only a couple of weeks ago that NASA’s Mars 2020 rover got renamed to the Perseverance rover, and with a la ...
APR 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 12, 2020
NASA Attaches Autonomous Helicopter to Perseverance Rover
Those paying any attention to NASA’s periodic updates during these past several weeks should have perceived what s ...
Loading Comments...