back to article Boeing Starliner commander Christopher Ferguson bows out of first crewed mission due to family commitments

Former NASA 'naut Christopher Ferguson has withdrawn as commander from the first crewed mission of Boeing's calamity capsule, the CST-100 Starliner. Three-time Space Shuttle flyer Ferguson joined the Boeing Starliner programme in 2011. He was assigned to the first crewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner in 2018, only to …

  1. six_tymes

    If it were me, it wouldn't be family stopping me from going, it would be the thought of Boeing engineering.

    1. Chris G

      I bet that decision has reduced his life insurance premium.

      I wonder if Boeing have considered using rocket science?

      1. Imhotep

        The new Boeing motto: It's Not Rocket Science, You Know!

        1. newspuppy

          Actually I think a modification of an old Boeing motto.. Perfect for today's lack of testing:

          "If its a Boeing... I'm not going"

    2. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      If I were Boeing I'd randomly select one of the software engineers to be on the flight. See if that improves quality of coding.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Or the entire board of directors. That would focus their minds on quality.

        1. Joe Dietz
        2. Michael B.

          See John Selwyn Gummer at the height of BSE crisis feeding a beef burger to his daughter and lately we had the deputy head of the FAA flying the Max to prove its safe. Politicians and people in the public eye will take stupid risks to prove something is safe.

          1. Jemma

            You missed the part where the daughters best friend subsequently died...

            ... Of nvCJD.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          I'd certainly be putting them all on the MAX test flights

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not joking, a company I used to fly for did that with the responsible mechanic when aircraft were released back to service after any major maintenance.

        1. Mark 85

          Not joking, a company I used to fly for did that with the responsible mechanic when aircraft were released back to service after any major maintenance.

          That practice wasn't all that uncommon in the military at one time.

          1. LoPath

            If I recall correctly, parachute riggers have to jump one of the random chutes they packed every few months. Helps to prevent sabotage and ensure quality.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Nope, not true.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            It's not uncommon everywhere. Responsible mechanics frequently want to HEAR and observe the aircraft systems in operation to ensure they're working properly. You can only do so much on the ground

            Where you should get worried is when they're reluctant to do so or not volunteering

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Well, ours were quite reluctant, but I think it had more to do with our piloting skills than anything else.

    3. Mark 85

      If it were me, it wouldn't be family stopping me from going, it would be the thought of Boeing engineering.

      Maybe the "family" was just the excuse for pubic and regulatory consumption?

      1. Imhotep

        I believe his daughter's wedding is scheduled then.

      2. Anonymous C0ward
        Paris Hilton

        Ah yes, pubic consumption...

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Not right now thanks. I've just brushed my teeth.

          1. KarMann Silver badge

            And you're not even going to floss afterward?

    4. macjules

      Guess it prevents Bits Of Engineer In Neighbour's Garden.

  2. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Staying alive

    He intends to keep on living and not have it cut short by some sloppy programmer from India.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Staying alive

      Ah yes, only programmers from India are sloppy. It is part of "The White Man's Burden" to deal with this. Your cultural sensitivity is an inspiration to us all.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Staying alive

        Considering what Boeing's paying them I don't suspect them to be rock-stars of software engineering.

        It's not necessarily their fault, Boeing is simply cutting corners to make more profit so the execs can buy their new mansions.

        I believe this profit-focused approach could eventually sink the company.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Staying alive

        Perhaps we should talk about HCL's cultural sensitivity, they're giving India a bad name in software engineering circles.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Staying alive

          It isn't just HCL. The poor quality of indian programming has been a running joke for over 40 years

          "Why write 6 lines when 12 pages will do?"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Staying alive

            But now they're all grown up and playing with the big boys, they shouldn't be screwing up like this.

  3. Nunyabiznes

    737 Max IN SPACE!!

    Apparently the engineering team that brought you the 737 Max has been moved to the Starliner program.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: 737 Max IN SPACE!!

      Just invert the input to or output from MCAS and you have your 737 Max in space.

      Surprised nobody's thought of it before.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: 737 Max IN SPACE!!

      I think they must be using 'Agile' to develop their software

  4. JDPower Bronze badge

    Next year is "very important for my family."

    As in "it's very important for my family that I don't die"

    1. Martin Summers

      Yes, I read it as 'leaving for personal reasons', i.e not wanting to die.

    2. swm

      I believe that it is because he wants to attend his daughter's wedding.

      1. Martin Summers

        "I believe that it is because he wants to attend his daughter's wedding."

        An activity I'm sure he and the rest of the guests would rather he be alive for.

        1. Muscleguy

          Walking your daughter down the aisle is one of the highlights of being a father to daughters. I’ve done in it and it remains a clear memory in my mind. My Father of the Bride speech was lauded by the celebrant as one of the best she had heard. I could do no less for my daughter. I had a couple of years to prepare for it and I’m not a stranger to public speaking.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pork Rockets

    Aside from the dubious quality of Boeing's recent contraptions, maybe he just got tired of waiting for the blasted thing to be finished.

    I'm glad we at least have SpaceX around, despite Musk's eccentricity, because the government sweetheart companies like Boeing dragging their heels and milking taxes are a big reason no one cares about NASA and it's programs in the US anymore. Hell the US lost the capability to get people into space on its own because of these guys demanding more and more money to redo things already achieved in the 70s. They got cut off and rightfully so.

    "Oh you're going to the moon again? What, in like 30 years for $20 trillion?" GTFO.

    1. Muscleguy

      Re: Pork Rockets

      Musk may be eccentric but he has the sense to let the engineers do their thing. Not only that he let and encouraged them to think big and lauded them when they succeeded. To watch the synchronised landing of the boosters from the mission launching starman aboard that car was both to see mesmerising mechanical ballet but bleeding edge tech in action.

      It is hard to completely dislike a man who enabled that to happen. I thought he SciFi thing (cf Forbidden Planet for eg) for rockets to land on their fins was unachievable. Then Musk’s engineers proved me wrong. You just need the right computing and movement control and enough money to burn making it almost work then iterate to workings sometimes to working reliably. I’m happy to admit I was wrong.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Pork Rockets

      at least the NASA money BUYS SOMETHING (like a rocket). There is a *bit* of 'trickle down' benefit to making something _like_ a rocket, as opposed to _OTHER_ kinds of spending, which might as well be dumping public money into an incinerator... like pretty much anything with "subsidy" (or similar) in its name.

      Also history shows many consequential products and scientific developments come out of the space program, from integrated circuits to "space food" (Tang doesn't count, it apparently existed before the 1st U.S. launch but gained fame for being included as a refreshment during John Glenn's Mercury flight). Although these things would probably exist without the space program, the use of such things BY the space program [and the otherwise prohibitive costs associated with them] often resulted in mass production and rapid drop in cost/price [particularly ICs]. PCs and cell phones COULD have taken a decade longer to show up in modern society were it not for the use of their core technology by NASA (and the U.S. military).

  6. stiine Silver badge


    Malcolm Gladwell, in one of his books or talks related a story of an attorney negotiating a settlement between the U.S. government and some Pacific islanders who told them that he wouldn't be able to meet on the date that they picked because he was going to attend his daughter's play. I don't recall which one it was, but the U.S. State Department were furious (duh) but the islanders understood.

  7. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge


    It worked in the past.

  8. herman Silver badge

    Too risky

    It is bad when even the test pilots run away.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge

    Doing the right thing

    You can crash a space ship any day, your daughter only gets married every so often...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "lack of end-to-end testing"

    It is also wise to remember that testing can prove the presence of bugs, but not their absence.

  11. very angry man


    if it's boeing i'm not going!

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Not stepping foot on a Boeing contraption

    That's very important for anybody's family.

  13. Barking mad

    Last safe Boeing

    Sadly BA just retired their 747s, the last Boeing aircraft that was really safe.

    And I don't care if they updated the software using a floppy disk - in fact I view that as advantage because they can't fit very much software on a floppy disk.

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