NASA Replaces Astronaut on Upcoming Space Station Flight

Jeanette Epps (Credit: NASA)

NASA has replaced an astronaut set to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in June with a backup.

Jeanette Epps, who was set to become the first African American crew member on the space station, has been reassigned to the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the space agency announced. She will be considered for future flights.

“Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who previously was assigned to Expedition 58/59, has been reassigned to the Expedition 56/57 crew, launching in June,” NASA said in a press release. ” Anne McClain, a member of the 2013 astronaut class, will fly on the Expedition 58/59 crew, launching in November.”

NASA did not give provide a reason for the reassignment of Epps, who was selected as an astronaut in 2009.

Auñón-Chancellor, from Fort Collins, Colorado, joined the astronaut corps in 2009 and has been at NASA since 2006, when she became a flight surgeon. Before being selected as an astronaut, she spent more than nine months in Russia supporting medical operations for space station crew members, including water survival training in the Ukraine, and served as the deputy lead for medical operations for NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University, Auñón-Chancellor holds a doctorate in medicine from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, is board certified in internal and aerospace medicine, and earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Texas Medical Branch.

McClain is from Spokane, Washington. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2002. She then went on to the University of Bath in England for a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, followed by the University of Bristol in England for a master’s degree in international relations.

She was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in 2002, and earned her wings as a Kiowa Warrior pilot in 2005. She served 15 months in Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying more than 800 combat hours. McClain graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in June 2013. She has over 2,000 flight hours in more than 20 rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, and has logged time as a pilot in command, air mission commander, instructor pilot and test pilot.

Follow Serena Auñón-Chancellor on Twitter at:

Follow Anne McClain on Twitter at:

  • windbourne

    Go get em Serena.
    Let me guess, poudre, not FC.

  • Kirk

    The most tin-foil-hat-worthy theory I’ve heard so far is that Ms. Epps, a former technical intelligence officer with the CIA, was scheduled to serve on the ISS while Zuma was in orbit, so she is now being rescheduled for a later mission when its replacement is up. Jack Fischer, formerly of the Pentagon’s Space and Intelligence Capabilities Office, was serving on Expedition 52 when the NRO’s USA 276 (NROL-76, launched by SpaceX on 2017-05-01) buzzed (came within 6.4 ± 2 km of) the ISS on 6 June 2017.

  • therealdmt


  • therealdmt


    But is it true?
    The Zuma mystery only gets more intruiging

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Yes, astronauts with no ride need patience. NASA/Congress/Country is zero hurry to provide said ride.

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    As its is a woman astronaut, is she pregnant?

  • patb2009

    That is actually not the worst theory, of course with a russian crew mate, it’s hard to hide the secret ZUMA payload controller from there.

  • patb2009

    That would make a good explanation

  • economically inactive

    Dr. Epps brother suggests “racism” on the part of NASA while an alt-right reporter claims anonymous sources in Houston said she possesses none of the skills expected of a long-duration Space Station crewmember. Will the truth ever come out?

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, believe it or not, Here is the link to the article.

    “The brother of a Syracuse-born astronaut said “oppressive racism and
    misogyny in NASA” is behind the administration’s choice not to send Dr.
    Jeanette Epps to the International Space Station”

    “”My sister Dr. Jeannette Epps has been fighting against oppressive racism and misogynist in NASA and now they are holding her back and allowing a Caucasian Astronaut to take her place!” Henry Epps wrote on Facebook on Saturday night.”

    That is really insulting to the Astronaut Office at NASA. He should apologize to them, but in this current climate the Democrats will probably add it to their anti-Trump grievance list. The article notes there is already a “Moveon” petition to reinstate her for the mission. That totally undermines the historic independence of the Astronaut Office to do its job free of politics. How sad that everything is being politicized these days.