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Boeing launching Starliner, rival to SpaceX’s Dragon

The first passenger to fly aboard Boeing’s Starliner will be Rosie the Rocketeer, a mannequin set to blast off to the International Space Station aboard the capsule on Thursday evening. If she makes the trip safely, NASA astronauts will be cleared for future flights on the new spacecraft.

Starliner lifted off on NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) at 6:54 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Following an orbital insertion burn 31 minutes later, Starliner was on its way for a rendezvous and docking with the space station.

Today’s mission is a critical milestone as Boeing works to certify the vehicle for human spaceflight. Boeing developed Starliner as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, an initiative that tasked private companies with developing spacecraft capable of carrying NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA’s other Commercial Crew provider, SpaceX, is already ferrying astronauts to the ISS on a regular basis. But having Boeing’s Starliner in the mix will give NASA what it likes to call “dissimilar redundancy” — two different transportation options in case one goes out of commission.

“I am so proud of the NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance teams who have worked so hard to see Starliner on its way to the International Space Station,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Through adversity, our teams have continued to innovate for the benefit of our nation and all of humanity. I look forward to a successful end-to-end test of the Starliner spacecraft, which will help enable missions with astronauts aboard.”

Launch and orbital insertion are major milestones for the company’s second uncrewed flight, bringing the U.S. closer to having two independent crew systems flying missions to and from the space station.

Takeoff is scheduled for 6:54PM ET out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Scheduled time: New York: 6:54PM / San Francisco: 3:54PM / London: 11:54PM / Berlin: 12:54AM / Moscow: 1:54AM / New Delhi: 4:24AM / Beijing: 6:54AM / Tokyo: 7:54AM / Melbourne: 8:54AM


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