After a successful test flight of a private Boeing Starliner spacecraft, NASA is preparing the first flight with a crew, which underwent some changes on June 16. The planned Starliner Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission will go to the International Space Station. During the preparation for the first flight, there is another change in the composition of the crew — astronaut Michael Finke will not fly to the ISS.
Mike Finke has been appointed as a backup for one of the two veteran astronauts. Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will participate in the first manned flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. The flight is expected to last two weeks.
Williams and Wilmore have extensive space flight experience. Williams participated in two long missions to the ISS in 2006 — 2007 and 2012, spending a total of 322 days in space. Wilmore was a pilot of the shuttle STS-129 in 2009 and spent six months on the ISS in 2014 — 2015.
Changing composition of Starliner Crew Flight Test
Butch Wilmore replaced Boeing commercial astronaut Chris Ferguson in 2020, who dropped out of the CFT mission for personal reasons. Wilmore was to participate in the first manned flight together with Mike Finke and Nicole Mann. However, in October 2021, NASA reassigned Mann to the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which is scheduled to launch in September 2022. Mike Finke will continue training as a backup for CFT and is still eligible to fly in one of the future missions.
The crew of the CST-100 Starliner underwent changes even earlier. In 2019, Eric Bo left the project for unspecified reasons. Chris Ferguson, who was appointed one of the first, also refused to fly in October 2020 to spend more time with his family.
Starliner Crew Flight Test is not yet included in the NASA flight schedule. However, mission leaders hope that the CST-100 Starliner will be launched by the end of 2022, if no serious problems are found after the completed unmanned test flight last month. The Aerospace Administration may set a target date at the end of July, after the test flight studies are completed.
Recall that the Boeing Starliner delivered a surprise to the ISS.
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