US: NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.
Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
This will be Fincke’s fourth trip to space since joining the astronaut corps in 1996. He previously served as an International Space Station flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 9, and commanded the station on Expedition 18. He returned as a mission specialist for the STS-134 crew on space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission. So far, the Pennsylvania native has spent 382 days in space and performed nine spacewalks.
In addition, Fincke, who is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, has served as assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office since 2013. In that role, he has worked closely with both Boeing and SpaceX, and with the astronauts assigned to their vehicles on the development and testing of the new spacecraft.
Fincke will begin training immediately alongside NASA’s Nicole Mann and Boeing’s Chris Ferguson, who were both assigned to the mission in August 2018.
The Starliner’s Crew Flight Test will be the first time that the new spacecraft, which is being developed and built by Boeing as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is launched into space with humans on board. An uncrewed flight test of the Starliner will test the spacecraft’s critical systems prior to Fincke, Ferguson and Mann’s launch.