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Boeing Starliner successfully launches carrying two NASA astronauts

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a Boeing Starliner spacecraft launches NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, June 5, 2024.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a Boeing Starliner spacecraft launches NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. NASA Television

The Boeing Starliner spacecraft has finally launched, taking off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida today, June 5. This is the third attempt at a launch for the spacecraft, which is carrying two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The spacecraft lifted off at 10:52 a.m. ET, carried by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. On board the Starliner are NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, who will arrive at the ISS for docking Thursday. The launch can be viewed below:

NASA’s Boeing Starliner Crew Flight Test Launch – June 5, 2024 (Official NASA Broadcast)

“Two bold NASA astronauts are well on their way on this historic first test flight of a brand-new spacecraft,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement. “Boeing’s Starliner marks a new chapter of American exploration. Human spaceflight is a daring task — but that’s why it’s worth doing. It’s an exciting time for NASA, our commercial partners, and the future of exploration. Go Starliner, Go Butch and Suni!”

This is the first crewed test flight of the Starliner, which has had a troubled development period with repeated problems over the last five years. In the last month, there have been several attempts to make the launch, but there were problems, including an issue with the rocket and a helium leak on the spacecraft, which forced the launch to be called off.

Now, however, the Starliner has launched as planned with a smooth liftoff, as seen in this footage:

NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test: Liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center!

The astronauts will travel for around 24 hours, and should arrive at the ISS at 12:15 p.m. ET on Thursday June 6. This makes Williams the first woman to be on board a first crewed test flight of a new spacecraft.

“With Starliner’s launch, separation from the rocket, and arrival on orbit, Boeing’s Crew Flight Test is right on track,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Everyone is focused on giving Suni and Butch a safe, comfortable ride and performing a successful test mission from start to finish.”

If docking goes as planned, NASA will now have two options for ferrying astronauts between Earth and the ISS: the Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. If you’d like to watch the arrival of the Starliner at the ISS on Thursday, it will be live-streamed on NASA’s YouTube channel with coverage beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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