- NASA moved two astronauts from Boeing launches to a 2022 SpaceX mission, the agency said Wednesday.
- Boeing’s Starliner missions to the International Space Station (ISS) have been delayed indefinitely after setbacks.
- Moving the astronauts to SpaceX would give Boeing time to work on the Starliner craft, NASA said.
NASA said on Wednesday that it had moved two astronauts from Boeing missions to a future SpaceX launch following a major delay to Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.
Nicole Mann was due to launch on a test flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), and Josh Cassada had been assigned to the craft’s first operational ISS mission. But an uncrewed Starliner launch has been delayed indefinitely, and NASA said it was reassigning the astronauts to SpaceX missions to give Boeing time to finish developing Starliner.
The pair are now expected aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-5 mission to the ISS in fall 2022, NASA added.
Mann is expected to serve as the commander and Cassada is set to be the pilot on the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, NASA said.
“Nicole and Josh have done a tremendous job pioneering the training and path forward for astronauts to fly on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft,” Kathryn Lueders of NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate said in the statement. She added that both astronauts would take the experience forward when training to fly in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Three other NASA astronauts — Butch Wilmore, Mike Fincke, and Suni Williams — were still assigned to Boeing’s Starliner projects, the agency said in the statement.
In 2014, NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing to build spaceships for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program to take US astronauts to and from ISS.
But setbacks with the Starliner spacecraft has delayed Boeing’s efforts.
Boeing had scheduled an August 3 uncrewed test flight of Starliner to and from the ISS.
Hours before launch, engineers found a valve problem on the spaceship’s propulsion system and Boeing had to abandon the launch. The company later found that 13 valves weren’t opening properly, preventing the engines from firing up.
Boeing first attempted an uncrewed test flight of Starliner in December 2019, but the spaceship veered off-course and burned through fuel too quickly. This meant there wasn’t enough fuel to both reach the ISS and return to Earth.