NASA astronaut Mike Fincke tests the Orion spaceship exit procedure at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas. He flew on two long-duration missions to the International Space Station on Soyuz spacecraft in 2004 and 2008-2009, as well as the final flight of the shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, in 2011. During this flight, Fincke and his three ISS crewmembers welcomed STS-126/Endeavour and Eric Boe to the Station and also oversaw delivery of the final set of Solar Arrays for the Station on STS-119/Discovery.
If successful, Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, reportedly due to make its first launch - unmanned - on February 9, will mark the first time in history NASA has sent astronauts to space on systems "owned, built, tested and operated by private companies". To date, the Pennsylvania native has spent 382 days in space and performed nine space walks. Boe and three different NASA astronauts were chosen in 2015 as the primary industrial crew members.
This will be Fincke's fourth trip to space. Assuming the tests go as planned, SpaceX and Boeing would proceed with regular space taxi flights to and from the station.
Fincke has amassed a total of 381 days 15 hours 11 minutes in space and has 48 hours 37 minutes of spacewalk experience to his name.
Now available schedules from NASA show this mission launching No Earlier Than (NET) August 2019 - though it is expected to slip deeper into 2019.
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