Starliner launch: Boeing’s spacecraft lifts off for first crewed flight

NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams blasted off Wednesday on a path to the International Space Station in the first crewed test flight for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched the Starliner into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 10:52 a.m. It is expected to dock on the ISS around 12:15 p.m. Thursday, NASA officials said.

Starliner in orbit en route to ISS

Update 11:30 a.m. EDT June 5: Officials said the Starliner has reached orbit after taking off Wednesday morning from Florida.

Journey to ISS expected to take about 25.5 hours

Update 11:15 a.m. EDT June 5: Wilmore and Williams are expected to reach the International Space Station on Thursday afternoon after lifting off on the Boeing Starliner on Wednesday morning.

The flight to the ISS is expected to take about 25.5 hours, with docking expected at 12:15 p.m. EDT Thursday.

The Starliner launch was the first including crew members. NASA noted that it was also historic in that it made Williams the first female astronaut to flight on the first flight of a crewed spacecraft.

Wednesday’s launch is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, in which the agency partners with American aerospace companies “to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.”

“The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation on space station missions, which will allow for additional research time,” according to NASA.

Starliner lifts off

Update 10:55 a.m. EDT June 5: The Starliner lifted off as planned on Wednesday, marking the first crewed test flight for the spacecraft.

Original report: Around 9 a.m. Wednesday, NASA commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams underwent checks and took their seats on the spacecraft, WFTV reported. It marked the second time this month that the astronauts prepped for launch after an attempt to blast off was halted with minutes to spare on Saturday.

NASA said the launch was scrubbed “due to the computer ground launch sequencer not loading into the correct operational configuration after proceeding into terminal count.”

It was the second time a planned launch was halted after a faulty pressure regulation valve prompted officials to scrub a launch on May 6.

“Everything has to work,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, according to WFTV. “We don’t fly until we think it’s absolutely safe. And that’s why it’s taken this long on the Boeing Starliner.”

Along with Wilmore and Williams, the Starliner is carrying 759 pounds of cargo, including food, clothing, exercise gear, medical supplies, photo and media equipment, vehicle supplies and tools, according to NASA. It will also bring a thumb drive with thousands of photos of art made by children around the globe to the orbiting laboratory.

Wilmore and Williams are expected to spend about a week the ISS before returning to the U.S.

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