Rare move: NASA bumps astronaut, Syracusan off space station flight

US astronaut Jeanette Epps removed from ISS crew 1912018
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20 January, 2018

NASA has removed American astronaut Jeanette Epps from the roster of crew members leaving for the next mission to the International Space Station, just months prior to launch.

Jeanette Epps, (L) would have made the first long-duration stay by an African-American at the International Space Station.

Instead, a NASA release said Epps will be replaced by astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, a fellow space rookie and member of the same astronaut class who had been assigned to a station flight scheduled for launch in November. Friday, Dean confirmed that Epps had returned to the active astronaut corps and would still be considered for future missions.

NASA announced late Thursday that it was pulling Epps off the mission but didn't disclose why.

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It's still unclear why, but plans for her June liftoff suddenly changed, and another astronaut was chosen in her place, NASA has announced.

Dr Epps was because of dispatch to the circling station from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, alongside the German European Space Agency (Esa) space explorer Alexander Gerst and the flight's officer, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopev.

It would have been the NY native's first trip to space, and the first long-duration stay at the orbiting outpost by an African-American.

Nasa offered no explanation behind the choice to expel her from the Expedition 56/57 mission. Meanwhile, the would-be space voyager will assume duties at the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Dr Auñón-Chancellor beforehand spent over nine months in Russian Federation supporting therapeutic operations for space station team individuals.

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