Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson withdraws from Starliner test flight

WASHINGTON — Chris Ferguson, the former NASA astronaut who was to command the first crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle, has withdrawn from the mission for personal reasons, the company announced Oct. 7.

Ferguson, who joined Boeing in 2011 after a NASA career that included commanding the final space shuttle mission, was to lead the Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission currently scheduled for launch in the middle of 2021, a flight that also includes NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke.

In an interview, Ferguson said he decided to step down from the mission because of family obligations. “It was a decision that was not made lightly,” he said. “It surrounds what has really amounted to a year that is replete with family obligations that I just do not want to risk missing.”

He didn’t elaborate on those obligations, beyond being “the best kind of family issues.”

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NASA launches new astronaut toilet and more to space station on Cygnus cargo ship

A robotic Cygnus spacecraft successfully blasted off from Virginia late Friday (Oct. 2) carrying nearly 4 tons of gear, including a new space toilet, to the International Space Station. 

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket lit up the night sky alongside a nearly full moon at 9:16 p.m. EDT (0116 GMT on Oct. 3) as it launched the Cygnus NG-14 mission to the space station from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. 

The craft is hauling 7,624 lbs. (3,458 kilograms) of cargo that includes scientific equipment, an experimental space toilet, food, hardware and other supplies for the Expedition 63/64 astronauts living and working on the space station. 

The launch came after a series of delays due to weather this week and less than 24 hours after a launch abort late Thursday (Oct. 1) due to a ground support equipment issue.

Related: See amazing launch

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NASA targeting Halloween for next SpaceX Crew Dragon astronaut launch

NASA now plans to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on October 31, a Halloween flight that will mark the first operational use of the capsule following a successful piloted test flight earlier this summer.

The space agency initially targeted October 23 for the “Crew 1” mission, just nine days after the October 14 launch of two cosmonauts and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and two days after NASA flier Chris Cassidy and two cosmonaut crewmates return to Earth on October 21 aboard another Soyuz.

By delaying the Crew Dragon flight to October 31, the station crew and flight controllers in the U.S., Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan will get a chance to catch their collective breath while allowing additional time to resolve any open issues.

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NASA’s SpaceX Crew 1 astronauts (L-R): Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins
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Hitting the Books: The invisible threat that every ISS astronaut fears

how to astronaut

Workman

Excerpted from How to Astronaut: An Insider’s Guide to Leaving Planet Earth by Terry Virts (Workman). © 2020.


For all the emergency training I went through as an astronaut, I never expected to be holed up in the Russian segment of the ISS, the hatch to the US segment sealed, with my crew waiting and wondering—would the space station be destroyed? Was this the end? As we floated there and pondered our predicament, I felt a bit like the guy in the Alanis Morissette song “Ironic,” who was going down in an airplane crash, thinking to himself, “Now isn’t this ironic?” This is how we ended up in that situation.

Every space station crew trains for all types of emergencies—computer failures, electrical shorts, equipment malfunctions, and more serious fire and air leak scenarios. However, on the International Space Station, the most dangerous of all is an ammonia leak. In

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NASA astronaut plans to cast her ballot from space station

ATLANTA (AP) — NASA astronaut Kate Rubins told The Associated Press on Friday that she plans to cast her next vote from space – more than 200 miles above Earth.

Rubins is just outside Moscow in Star City, Russia, preparing with two cosmonauts for a mid-October launch and a six-month stay at the International Space Station.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said. “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”

Most U.S. astronauts live in Houston. Texas law allows them to vote from space using a secure electronic ballot. Mission Control forwards the ballot to the space station and relays the completed ballot back to the county clerk.


“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins said. “We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.”

NASA astronauts have voted from space

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NASA Astronaut Plans To Cast Her Ballot From Space

Topline

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, who is training for a six-month mission scheduled to launch in October, says she plans to cast her next vote from space.

Key Facts

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins told the Associated Press Friday, adding that astronauts “consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.”

NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston sends a secure electronic ballot to the astronauts who send it back and the control center then emails it to the County Clerk’s Office to be recorded.  

The voting process starts a year before launch, when astronauts select which elections they want to participate in, and then submit an absentee ballot request six months before the elections, NASA says.

Key Background

Rubins joined NASA in 2009. She completed her first spaceflight in 2016 as an Expedition 48/49 crew

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