NASA Reassigns Starliner Crew


NASA has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada from missions aboard Boeing’s Starliner to the SpaceX Crew-5 launch. Mann was previously assigned to NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test while Cassada was scheduled for the Starliner-1 mission. NASA noted that the change was made “to allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight experience for the future needs of the agency’s missions.”

“Nicole and Josh have done a tremendous job pioneering the training and path forward for astronauts to fly on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft,” said Kathryn Lueders, NASA associate administrator of the space operations mission directorate at NASA headquarters. “The NASA team is fortunate to have two commercial crew partners and will continue to work with Boeing and SpaceX to prepare NASA astronauts and our international partners to fly to and from the International Space Station on U.S. spacecraft.”

As previously reported by AVweb, Boeing’s Starliner was sent back to the factory for further testing after unexpected valve position indications caused the cancellation of an uncrewed launch last August. The spacecraft also suffered software problems during an orbital flight test in December 2019 that, following an independent review, resulted in 80 recommendations for Boeing and NASA to address. The Starliner missions and the SpaceX Crew-5 flight, which is expected to launch no earlier than fall 2022, are all part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. According to what I heard, the Starliner was sent back for replacement of several valves due to corrosion caused by hydrazine propellant. Considering the fact that hydrazine has been in common use in spacecraft since the 1960s, that is pretty well inexcusable, no matter how inexperienced the engineers are. Hydrazine is nasty stuff and you really don’t want to go cheap on the plumbing system for it. Makes you wonder what other gotchas might be lurking in the spacecraft.