Boeing sends veteran space shuttle commander back into space

Boeing has announced Chris Ferguson, who led the final space shuttle mission, will make his fourth spaceflight when he and NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Mann take the new Boeing [NYSE: BA] CST-100 Starliner commercial crew spacecraft to the International Space Station, the company said.

The three pioneers will help restore American access to space from US soil, a capability that ended when the shuttle was retired seven years ago. Mann will also make history as the first female astronaut on the inaugural crewed flight of a new US spacecraft.

Ferguson has been an integral part of the Starliner program since retiring from NASA and joining Boeing in 2011. He spent more than 40 days in space for NASA during three shuttle missions.

The Starliner flight will be Mann´s first journey to space. Boe will be making his third trip to space. Mann is a US Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and pilot of the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, while Boe is a retired US Air Force colonel who was a test pilot on the Boeing F-15.

The development of a safe, reliable, and cost-effective solution for crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station will allow the on-orbit research facility to continue to fulfill its promise as a world-class laboratory. With NASA as the anchor customer, Boeing´s Starliner is setting the foundation for commercial passenger flights to and from low-Earth orbit destinations, to include international astronauts, scientists and even tourists.