Boeing astronaut withdraws himself from first crewed test flight of passenger spacecraft

Boeing employee and former NASA astronaut Christopher Ferguson will no longer command the first crewed test flight of Boeing’s new passenger spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner, slated to carry its first human passengers next year. NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore will take Ferguson’s place on the flight, riding along with the two other NASA astronauts already assigned to the mission.

In a video posted to Twitter, Ferguson said leaving the flight was a “difficult and personal decision” he had to make. “Next year is very important for my family,” he said in the video. “I have made several commitments which I simply cannot risk missing. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just not going into space next year.”

Ferguson has been instrumental in the multiyear development of Boeing’s Starliner, a privately built crew capsule designed to ferry astronauts to and from

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Voskhod program: The Soviet Union’s first crewed space program

The Voskhod spacecraft was a vehicle used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War space race to carry crews of up to three cosmonauts. Though it only flew two missions, Voskhod (which means “sunrise” in Russian) achieved major milestones with each flight: Bringing the first multi-person crew into space and helping carry out the first spacewalk in history. 

The USSR’s Voskhod program was the country’s second human spaceflight project, following the earlier successes of the Vostok program, which ran from 1960 to 1963 and took single-person crews into orbit. In June 1963, architect of the Soviet spaceflight program Sergei Korolev proposed four more missions under Vostok that would have added new capabilities, such as  improved guidance systems and eventually, two-person crews, according to a NASA spaceflight paper by historian Asif Siddiqi.

Around the same time, the United States was readying its second human spaceflight program, the two-person

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