KEY POINTS

  • Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson has stepped down from Boeing’s 2021 crewed flight test
  • In a Twitter video, Ferguson stressed his dedication to the Starliner program and said it was a difficult decision
  • He will be replaced by a veteran NASA astronaut, giving the mission an all-NASA crew

The commander of the 2021 crewed Boeing flight test has stepped down from his position for “personal reasons.” He will be replaced by another veteran astronaut.

NASA and Boeing announced on Wednesday that astronaut Chris Ferguson will no longer be the commander of next year’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station (ISS). In their respective statements, both NASA and Boeing said Ferguson decided to step down from the mission for “personal reasons” but did not go into further details.

In a video Ferguson shared on Twitter, he stressed his dedication to the Starliner program, saying it was a difficult decision. He added that 2021 “is very important” for his family. 

“I have made several commitments which I simply cannot risk missing,” Ferguson said in the video. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m just not going into space next year.”

Although he too did not specify why he stepped down, a Boeing spokeswoman told Associated Press that one of the “commitments” was his daughter’s wedding.

“I’m taking on a new mission, one that keeps my feet planted here firmly on Earth and prioritizes my most important crew – my family,” Ferguson said in the tweet.

In the Boeing and NASA statements, Ferguson reiterated his confidence in the Starliner vehicle, calling it the “safest new crewed spacecraft ever fielded.” And even though he will not fly in the mission, he will remain active as the director of Mission Integration and Operations. This will be the first crewed mission of the Starliner