Veteran NASA astronaut and Mt. Juliet native Barry “Butch” Wilmore will join astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, the inaugural crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner launching to the International Space Station in 2021.
Wilmore has been training side-by-side with the crew since being named the sole backup for all flight positions in July 2018. He now will shift his focus specifically to the spacecraft commander’s duties in preparation for the flight to the space station. The flight is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new Starliner system.
Butch has been in space twice before: once in 2009, when he served as the pilot of space shuttle Atlantis on STS-129 and delivered 14 tons of spare parts to the International Space Station, and once in 2014, when he was ferried to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and remained there for 167 days. He completed four space walks on the latter mission.
“Butch will be able to step in seamlessly, and his previous experience on both space shuttle and space station missions make him a valuable addition to this flight,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “Chris has been a talented member of the crew for this mission. The NASA and Boeing Commercial Crew teams sincerely appreciate the invaluable work he has completed and he will continue to lead in the development of Starliner, which will help ensure that the Starliner Crew Flight Test will be a success.”
A native of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Wilmore earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, and a master’s degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He is a retired captain in the U.S. Navy, with more than 7,800 flight hours and 663 carrier landings in tactical jet aircraft. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000.