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Terry Renna/AP/Shutterstock Astronaut Chris Ferguson
Astronaut Chris Ferguson, who was expected to serve as the commander of Boeing’s first test flight to space next year, announced he’ll be giving up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity due to “several commitments” he cannot afford to miss.
In a video posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday, Ferguson, 59, revealed the news, calling the decision “difficult and personal,” but reassured his followers that he remains “deeply committed to human spaceflight.”
Though the astronaut remained mostly general in his explanation — only saying that the decision was due to prioritizing his family and important commitments — a spokesperson at Boeing confirms to PEOPLE that one of those commitments included his daughter’s wedding.
“I want to share with you a difficult and personal decision I’ve had to make,” he said in the clip. “I have chosen to step aside as commander of the crewed flight test, scheduled
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It’s not very often that you hear about an astronaut pulling out of the chance to go to space, but that’s precisely what NASA’s Christopher Ferguson did on Wednesday.
The experienced astronaut announced in a video posted on Twitter that he’s decided not to take his place alongside two colleagues for Boeing’s first crewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft next year, citing family commitments.
Ferguson, a three-time Space Shuttle veteran, described the decision as a “difficult” one. Elaborating, he said that 2021 is a “very important” year for his family as he’s made “several important commitments that I simply cannot risk missing.”
I’m taking on a new mission, one that keeps my feet planted here firmly on Earth and prioritizes my most important crew – my family. I’ll still be working hard with the #Starliner team and the @NASA_Astronauts on our crew. pic.twitter.com/PgdhPqwYQS
— Christopher Ferguson (@Astro_Ferg) October