NASA likely to move some astronauts off Starliner due to extended delays

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada watch as an Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard is rolled to the launch pad ahead of the Orbital Flight Test mission in December 2019.

Enlarge / NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada watch as an Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard is rolled to the launch pad ahead of the Orbital Flight Test mission in December 2019. (credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA will not make an official announcement for weeks or months, but two sources say the space agency is moving several astronauts from Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft onto SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle for upcoming missions to the International Space Station.

The assignments are not final—they have yet to go through the formal approval process of the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel, which includes all international partners—but sources say NASA’s rookie astronauts who have not yet flown to space will move off the Boeing vehicle due to its ongoing delays.

The most likely scenario is that Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Jeannette Epps will now fly on the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, targeted for launch no earlier than August 2022 on a Falcon 9 rocket. They are likely to be joined by an international partner astronaut, probably Japan’s Koichi Wakata, for the mission.

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