Astronaut Chris Ferguson, who was expected to serve as the commander of Boeing's first crewed flight test to space next year, has decided to stay on the ground so he can attend his daughter's wedding, instead.
In a post he shared to Twitter, Ferguson wrote, "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."
Ferguson will now assume the role of director of Mission Integration and Operations, as well as director of Crew Systems for Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. In the video he shared to Twitter, Ferguson doubled down on his commitment to space exploration, the Starliner program – and his family. "I am deeply committed to human space flight," he said. "I'm dedicated to the Starliner program and I'm passionate about the team that has built her. But next year is very important for my family. I have made several commitments which 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… https://t.co/YeU7GHXaUW— Christopher Ferguson (@Astro_Ferg) 1602082829.0
While Ferguson doesn't specify which commitments he doesn't want to miss, Boeing executives have reportedly confirmed that one is his daughter's wedding. "I'm not going anywhere, I'm just not going into space next year," said Ferguson.
Veteran NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore is already slated to take Ferguson's place and the mission is still on schedule for early next year.
NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore, left, and Chris Ferguson, director of Mission Integration and Operations at Boeing, train for the first flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which will carry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.NASA
"My personal thank you to Chris for his leadership. He is putting his family first, which Boeing fully supports," said Leanne Caret, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, in a statement. "We are fortunate he will continue to take an active role on the Starliner program and bring his depth and breadth of experience in human spaceflight to the program."
We applaud the Ferguson family for their difficult decision. Parenting can sometimes feel like an impossible balancing act where we're constantly choosing between our careers and our kids. In this case, Ferguson chose one of the biggest days in his daughter's life over the opportunity to return to space. Now that's a committed dad.