Watch Live: Boeing Starliner launches first manned space mission with NASA astronauts

Boeing’s Starliner crew launched its first manned mission to space on Wednesday morning with NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams on board. The Starliner capsule took off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, in Florida, at 10:52 a.m. ET. If successful, the two are expected to return to Earth in approximately 10 days.

NASA and Boeing both confirmed on Monday that the capsule, rocket and ground support equipment were ready for the launch after two previously aborted attempts. In May, there was an issue with an oxygen relief valve that delayed and subsequently led to the cancellation of the first launch attempt. Then, on June 1, the United Launch Alliance crew found another issue with a rocket, which halted the second attempt.

Following the launch, the Starliner capsule carrying Wilmore and Williams detached from booster rockets, using its own engines to take the pair to the International Space Station. Wilmore and Williams helped develop the capsule.

The two astronauts will stay at the space station to test the Starliner spacecraft for certification — potentially putting Boeing in competition with SpaceX. Boeing has a $4.3 billion contract with NASA as part of its Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner first did an unmanned test flight in 2019, but a software glitch prevented it from making it to the space station. A second test flight in 2022 also dealt with issues. A year later, Boeing postponed a crewed launch several times and then canceled the launch after finding more issues with the crew capsule.

Today’s launch is significant because it could open doors for more private airline companies to collaborate with NASA.

Photo Credit: NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore, left, and Suni Williams wave as they leave the operations for a trip to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 on Wednesday in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

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