Boeing’s Starliner on third try launches its 1st astronaut-crewed space flight

Boeing Starliner. Image credit: Boeing/Joey Jetton

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Washington/IBNS-CMEDIA: Boeing on Wednesday successfully lifted off its new Starliner astronaut capsule from Florida in a much-delayed first test flight carrying a crew, a milestone in the aerospace giant’s ambitions to step up its competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

According to reports, Boeign’s CST-100 Starliner, with NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Indian-origin Sunita Williams aboard, launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, strapped to an Atlas V rocket furnished and flown by Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance.

Along with the two crew members, Starliner is also carrying about 760 pounds (345 kilograms) of cargo, Boeing said in a statement.

Boeing’s gumdrop-shaped capsule and its crew headed for a rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS), following years of technical problems, delays and a 2022 test mission to the orbital laboratory without astronauts aboard.

Some last-minute technical issues had nixed the Starliner’s first two crewed launch attempts, but on the third attempt on Wednesday, the Atlas V’s engines successfully lifted off the spacecraft from its launch pad.

Starliner will need to execute precise maneuvers to dock with ISS as planned on Thursday (June 6), demonstrate it can stay docked for eight days, then safely return the two astronauts, mission managers said.

As per reports, the American aerospace company intends for Starliner to compete with Elon Musk-owned SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which has been NASA’s only vehicle for sending ISS crew members to orbit from US soil since 2020.