Boeing Starliner First Launch Carrying NASA Astronauts

Boeing launched its first Starliner flight with astronauts last week, marking a critical final flight test of the long-delayed spacecraft.

The launch occurred at 10:52 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with two NASA astronauts on board. The Starliner was carried by a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, destined for the International Space Station (ISS).

Approximately 15 minutes after liftoff, the rocket successfully released the Starliner capsule into orbit, with the flight proceeding as expected, according to mission control.

Although Starliner is equipped with cameras to capture views inside and outside the cabin, NASA’s broadcast indicated that Boeing would not be able to relay video footage back to Earth until the spacecraft reaches the ISS.

Starliner is set to travel in space for about 25 hours before docking with the ISS at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday. The astronauts will spend about a week on the ISS, focusing on testing Starliner, before returning to Earth.

Boeing’s crew flight test aims to certify the Starliner system as capable of transporting NASA astronauts to and from the ISS.

Wednesday’s liftoff followed a series of previous launch attempts. On Saturday, a launch was aborted in the final minutes of the countdown due to an issue with one of the ground support computers. Earlier in May, another attempt was canceled due to a detected problem with the rocket itself.

United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, replaced the rocket’s faulty valve after the May attempt and fixed a faulty part in the ground infrastructure computer after the Saturday attempt.

The Starliner capsule is designed to carry up to four NASA astronauts per flight, along with more than 200 pounds of research and cargo. The spacecraft lands using a parachute and airbag system and is reusable, with each capsule capable of flying up to 10 missions.

The Starliner capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station the next day, achieving a significant milestone for the company’s crew spacecraft in a crucial test flight.

Below is the video of the liftoff. The fun part starts around the 1 hour 10 minute mark.

I’m just glad all the doors were securely bolted on! 😬

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