Commander of Boeing’s First Manned Flight to Space Pulls Out to Attend Daughter’s Wedding

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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Boeing Starliner commander drops out to attend daughter’s wedding

Astronaut Chris Ferguson was going to command Boeing’s first crewed flight to the International Space Station, but he has bigger priorities.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — The commander of Boeing’s first astronaut flight has pulled himself off the crew so he’s on Earth — not at the International Space Station — for his daughter’s wedding next year.

It’s the second crew switch for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, grounded until the end of this year or early next because of software problems encountered during the first test flight last December.

Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson announced his decision Wednesday. Last year, NASA astronaut Eric Boe stepped aside from the first Starliner crew for medical reasons. Both were replaced by experienced space station astronauts.

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Ferguson said it was a difficult decision, but “next year is very important for my family.” He said he has several commitments

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