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Astronaut Stays Grounded
News Bytes 10/14/2020 28 Comments

The commander of Boeing’s first astronaut flight has pulled himself off the crew. He wants to be on Earth—not circling high above it—for his daughter’s wedding next year.

NASA has turned over the job of ferrying astronauts to and from the space station to private companies. Presently, Boeing and SpaceX are working on space flights.

In August, SpaceX closed out its first ever crew mission to outer space. (See “SpaceX Makes a Splash.”) The company plans to launch its second astronaut flight at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, Boeing is planning its first space flight. But last week, Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson announced his decision to step aside. It’s the second crew switch for the Boeing Starliner capsule. Last year, NASA astronaut Eric Boe stepped aside from the first crew for medical reasons.

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Ferguson called his decision a difficult one. But he says, “Next year is very important for my family.” He says he has several commitments “which I simply cannot risk missing.” A Boeing spokeswoman confirmed one of those is his daughter’s wedding.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m just not going into space next year,” Ferguson says. However, he stresses that he remains committed to the Starliner program and will continue to work for Boeing.

Ferguson has already flown in space three times. He commanded the last NASA shuttle flight in 2011. He has been replaced on the crew by NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore, who had been training as a backup for the test flight. Wilmore joins NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke.

The spaceship needs to remain grounded until the end of this year—or even early next year—because of software problems during a test.

In December or early January, Boeing plans to repeat the Starliner test flight without a crew, in hopes of reaching the International Space Station this time. If that goes well, Wilmore, Fincke, and Mann will fly to the space station aboard a Starliner as early as June 2021. They will remain in orbit anywhere between two weeks and six months. Those tentative dates are what made Ferguson pull the plug on a fourth interstellar foray.

What do you think of astronaut Chris Ferguson’s decision? What message does his attitude convey to his fellow astronauts and his family?

(Astronauts Butch Wilmore, left, and Chris Ferguson participate in a flight control simulation for a Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. James Blair/NASA via AP)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

I think he made the right decision. Because we all know that jobs are important, but family is even more important. He had been to space two times already, and can go again. His daughter only gets married once. (or should only get married once) I think it was the right choice to stay with his family this year.

2nd comment

That was very sweet of him. Marriages of one's child don't happen very often, just as much as the ability to be sent to space is rare... Anyways, family first, right! It was for sure the right decision.

3 comment!!

Wow!!!! That is sooo sweet!
I agree with Ferguson that it was a hard decision to make. Not everyone gets to go to space. This shows fellow astronauts that their job, as important as it may seem, should not be more important than family(especially his daughter's wedding)

I think he made the right

I think he made the right decision. I mean, I'm sure he really wants to walk his daughter down the aisle. Family over work people!

Riley D

Well, if she married a bad person who mistreated her, she should of course divorce that person and, if she wants to, marry again. Humans are sociable beings, we can't really be completely alone, it would drive us crazy. If something like that happened, I think she should be allowed to find another person, but she just needs to know that person better and make a good decision of who she wants to be with.




just dum


Going to space is a dream come true for most people!

@Riley D

3 times

That's so sweet

That's so sweet.

How sweet! He must really

How sweet! He must really care about his family!

that's awesome

that's soo awesome how he put his family over his work. i will admit that lots of families (including sort of mine) would not really care. so i think that that's really cool.

I'm not sure what to think

I'm not sure what to think about that, but that was sweet of him. I'm sure his daughter really appreciates it.

@Carys M

I know what you mean and I understand that. wouldn't it be so great if everyone made the right decision and found the right person the first time?! Too bad that is not true.
@Curtis P: oops sorry!! Thanks for correcting me!

Good for him. (This is my

Good for him. (This is my opinion) I think that some people in the space business would choose their jobs over family.

Also please pray for the city of Anchorage, Alaska, because our new mayor is not a good guy.


I will pray! that is awesome you live in Alaska! that must be so cool! But then again you probably are like what is so cool about it because you live there all the time! XD


It’s really beautiful, we live on a mountain right on the perfect spot. We can see the mountain range, and across the ocean we can the volcano. This year everyone thinks winter is coming early. Sometimes it gets down to -1 degrees.

17th comment!!!

I agree with his decision

@Ruby D

That is so awesome, but I am not a cold person, soooo.......!!!!!!! XD Yeah we just read Julie of the Wolves (REALLY good book!) and she is a Native Eskimo in Alaska, and the book was like "When the temperature hit zero, it began to feel a little chilly to Julie" and I was like whoa!!!! I feel chilly at 40 degrees!!!!! LOL!!!!!! I would love to visit Alaska at some point thought. I think it is a really beautiful place. Do you see the Northern Lights often? I have never seen them because of where I live.

@Ruby D

We have the same initials!! :) Sometimes I see the RD and go "oh did I comment already?" and then I realize that it was you! lol!!

I think...

I think it was very honorable of him to do that for his daughter! I can tell he loves her a lot.


Maybe he can go some other time!

I think that's super sweet

I think that's super sweet and thoughtful of him, though I would hate to be the daughter and know that my dad isn't doing something he loves just to stay with me!

@Porter E

I know, but I am a daughter myself. Just think about how many times your parents have given up things, even little things, for you and your siblings, if you have any. It just says how much that they really love you. I think that it would just strengthen the father-daughter bond, and she would see just a little more how deep his love for her is. And then get this. Just think how much more our Heavenly Father loves us. We can't even fathom it. Amazing.

25th comment P.S. Tis is Caro

That is sooooooooooo sweet!!!!!!!!!!!! Like it if you think it is pure awesomeness that he would give up a space flight so that he could go to his daughter's wedding!

@ Riley D

Deep. Very deep. LOL XD

@Porter E

Yep!!! But even more than that! :) ;)

That is sweet! Family is, of

That is sweet! Family is, of course first. I think he made the right decision.

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