The astronaut Jeanette Epps was selected as the third and last official member for the first operational mission of the Starliner, the Boeing space capsule. Although she has been a trained astronaut since 2009, she is only now making her first flight into space.
Jeanette Epps will enter the triptych of passengers who will use the Starliner to head to the ISS, a bit like we saw with the Crew dragon capsule for the SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Very talented astronaut, he worked well seven years in the CIA, to then turn its attention to the intensive training program for NASA pilots and astronauts. Her maiden voyage was scheduled for 2018, for the mission Expedition 57 towards the ISS, but apparently – six months before departure – it was replaced without public explanation official.
This sudden choice by NASA generated a lot of discontent, as the Epps she could have been the first black woman to fly a vehicle to the International Space Station. Although several times have been asked for clarification on this choice, the spokesmen of the US space agency have never released explanatory statements, stating that these decisions were taken to internal reasons and NASA would provide no further information.
Epps has repeatedly claimed to not knowing the cause of this suspension, and repeatedly reiterated how he was free from any physical and mental problem. Furthermore, the confidentiality of NASA has accidentally stirred up the doubt that it could be a real one discrimination racial, although there is no concrete evidence of this.
Now Jeanette – according to what she reported – no longer thinks about the past, and it is ready to focus on her new mission. There is still no official date for the launch of the Starliner as much will depend on other test flights that will take place over the next few months: the most important of all will be the final crewed test to smooth out any possible anomaly that in 2019 has given Boeing engineers a run for their money.
We just have to wish a big good luck to the three astronauts and to Boeing for the most important journey of their history, hoping to be able to witness another great success of the Commercial Crew Program.