- The Boeing Starliner crew change becomes a little clearer as we learn about one of the reasons Commander Chris Ferguson stepped down.
- The astronaut had family commitments in 2021, including his daughter’s wedding.
- The mission was delayed so many times and the coronavirus caused so much trouble, things got bad for the astronaut.
A few days ago astronaut Chris Ferguson announced that he would step down from his position as commander of the first manned test flight Boeing Starliner in 2021. This is a big deal, as Starliner has been repeatedly delayed and any further hiccups only serve to put the company even further behind its rival SpaceX, which has already fulfilled its promise to NASA with Crew Dragon.
At the time, Ferguson̵
According to a company statement, at least one of her commitments that Ferguson must attend is her daughter’s wedding. This … makes a lot of sense, actually.
As I mentioned in the first article covering this story, the coronavirus pandemic has seriously messed up many and many plans both in the United States and around the world. In fact, NASA and Boeing noted that the Starliner program was also affected by the pandemic, and given the project’s history of delays and setbacks, it’s no surprise.
I am embarking on a new mission, one that keeps my feet firmly planted here on Earth and prioritizes my most important crew: my family. I will continue to work hard with the #Starliner team and the @NASA_Astronauts on our crew. pic.twitter.com/PgdhPqwYQS
– Christopher Ferguson (@Astro_Ferg) 7 October 2020
Additionally, wedding venues have been notoriously strict about cancellations this year, and from personal experience, I know that there are a shocking number of venues that don’t accept rescheduling or cancellations without charging huge fees, despite the spread of the virus. It’s a bad situation all around, and while we can’t know for sure what Ferguson’s circumstances are, I’d hesitate to jump to the conclusion that the astronaut or his daughter is “selfish,” as some commentators have argued.
In all likelihood, the original marriage plans (and any other commitments made by Ferguson for 2021) did not interfere with the original planned launch of Starliner. Remember, Starliner launches have been delayed many times, and the major glitch of the unmanned test mission glitch delayed Boeing’s timeline significantly. Now, the launch (as it currently stands) is slated to overlap with Ferguson’s family events, and he’s made the decision to put his family first.
But don’t worry, as Boeing’s Starliner program is doing, the manned launch may be delayed again, so you never know who might be aboard that spacecraft when it finally launches.