Boeing Starliner launches for the first time carrying NASA astronauts to the ISS

Boeing launched its first Starliner flight with astronauts on Wednesday, beginning a crucial final flight test of the long-delayed spacecraft.

The launch took off at 10:52 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with two NASA astronauts aboard. Starliner is carried by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and is bound for the International Space Station.

About 15 minutes after launch, the rocket released the Starliner capsule in orbit as planned, with the flight going as expected, according to mission control.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying two astronauts aboard Boeing’s Starliner-1 Crew Flight Test is launched on a mission to the International Space Station, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on June 5, 2024.

Steve Nesius | Reuters

NASA’s broadcast of the launch also noted that although Starliner has cameras onboard to show inside and outside the cabin, Boeing won’t be able to relay video back down to the ground until the spacecraft reaches the ISS.

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

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

Wednesday’s liftoff comes after a series of attempts to launch the mission. On Saturday, a launch attempt was called off in the final minutes of the countdown due to a problem with one of the computers that provides ground support to the rocket. In early May, another attempt was called off due to an issue detected with the rocket itself.

Sign up here to receive weekly editions of CNBC’s Investing in Space newsletter.

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

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sits at the Space Launch Complex 41 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on June 3, 2024.

Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo | AFP | Getty Images

Between the two previous launch attempts, NASA and Boeing found a “small” helium leak in Starliner, causing the agency and company to perform another series of assessments.

After analysis, NASA and Boeing said the source of the leak was in the spacecraft’s helium propulsion system. But officials said after an investigation that the leak was “stable” and “not a safety of flight issue.”

SpaceX competition

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying two astronauts aboard Boeing’s Starliner-1 Crew Flight Test is launched on a mission to the International Space Station, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on June 5, 2024.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

The astronauts

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore, right, and Suni Williams wait for liftoff inside the Boeing Starliner capsule at Space Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on June 5, 2024.

NASA via AP

Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are flying on Starliner, with the former serving as the spacecraft’s commander and the latter as its pilot.

Wilmore joined NASA in 2000 and has flown to space twice previously on the Space Shuttle and Russia’s Soyuz. Before NASA, Wilmore was a U.S. Navy pilot.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore, left, and Suni Williams.

Credit: Kim Shiflett | NASA

Williams was selected by NASA in 1998 and has also flown to space twice before, on the Space Shuttle and then the Soyuz. Williams was also a Navy pilot, like Wilmore, before joining the space agency.

The rocket and capsule

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is seen on the launch pad of Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 30, 2024.

Isaac Watson | NASA

Starliner launches on ULA’s Atlas V. The rocket debuted in 2002, and the Starliner crew flight test represents its 100th launch.

The capsule itself is built to carry as many as four NASA astronauts per flight and more than 200 pounds of research and cargo. The spacecraft lands using a parachute and airbag system. Starliner is reusable, with each capsule designed to fly as many as 10 missions.

Don’t miss these exclusives from CNBC PRO

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2024/06/05/boeing-starliner-crew-launch.html

Meet Jaydon Hermann, the driving force behind Business Press Daily. As our Editor-in-Chief, Jaydon is dedicated to delivering the latest and most insightful news in the business world. With a passion for uncovering stories that matter, Jaydon leads our team in providing you with the most up-to-date and informative newsroom experience.