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Watch this highlight reel chronicling Starliner’s launch day

A ULA Atlas V rocket transporting the Starliner spacecraft to orbit.
A ULA Atlas V rocket transporting the Starliner spacecraft to orbit lifts off on Wednesday. Boeing Space

After years of delays and multiple launch postponements in recent weeks, Boeing Space’s Starliner spacecraft finally transported its first crew to orbit on Wednesday, June 6.

Carried to space by a ULA Atlas V rocket, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are now on their way to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Starliner after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday morning.

Boeing shared a short highlights reel (below) showing how the launch day unfolded.

The successful liftoff will come as a big relief to everyone involved, not least Wilmore and Williams, who had already experienced two countdown halts due to technical issues. The most recent of these occurred at the start of this month when the launch was scrubbed with just 3 minutes and 50 seconds remaining before the rocket was set to fire up its engines to begin the long-awaited mission.

Following Wednesday’s flawless liftoff, the Starliner is now well into its first crewed test flight and will dock with the space station today. Wilmore and Williams will spend about a week aboard the orbital outpost before returning home in the Starliner for a parachute-assisted touchdown in the southwestern U.S.

This is the third time the Starliner has flown to space, but the first flight with a crew aboard. Its first flight took place in 2019, but failed to reach the correct orbit to put it on course for the ISS. The mission surfaced a long list of software issues that had to be resolved before the spacecraft could fly again. Eventually it launched again in 2022 and successfully docked with the station, paving the way for the first crewed test.

Assuming the Starliner functions as expected during this current mission, NASA will be able to use the spacecraft for future astronaut flights to and from the space station, giving it another transportation option alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which has been carrying crews since 2020.

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Trevor Mogg
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