After repeated delays, Starliner finally blasts into space

In 2020, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew ship approaches the International Space Station on a prior test flight. (NASA/TNS)

Beoing’s Starliner capsule with two astronauts aboard was finally launched into space Wednesday after a series of delays that have vexed the troubled aerospace giant.

The test flight of the crew ship, developed to service the International Space Station, took off as scheduled at 7:52 a.m. Pacific from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.


The capsule reached orbit after 32 minutes of flight and is expected to dock with the station around 9:15 a.m. Pacific tomorrow. It’s the first time the capsule has carried astronauts after two prior uncrewed test flights.

The 15-foot diameter capsule is only the sixth spacecraft that NASA astronauts have ridden since the dawn of the space age, the first being the Project Mercury capsule and the most recent being SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

Veteran astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, who have previously flown to the space station, are expected to spend about a week testing the capsule before returning to Earth mid-month.

The capsule will touch down in the Arizona or New Mexico desert in a parachute ground landing pioneered by the Soviets decades ago, rather than the ocean landings typical of U.S. space flights. Ground landings make it easier to refit the reusable capsule for future missions, though Starliner also can land in water in an emergency.

The flight, also carrying 760 pounds of cargo to the space station, is critical for the Arlington, Va., aerospace company, which is far behind SpaceX in launching a crewed capsule to service the space station.

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