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Starliner Set to Launch

Aerospace giant Boeing will attempt the first crewed test flight of its Starliner spacecraft tonight, a major milestone in the company’s effort to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station. The reusable capsule will carry two astronauts to the station, where they'll spend a week before returning to Earth aboard the same vehicle. 

Boeing was one of two companies, the other being SpaceX, awarded multibillion-dollar contracts in 2014 to create private company options for astronaut transport to the ISS. While SpaceX demonstrated a successful crewed launch to the ISS in 2020 (and has since carried out seven more trips), Boeing's Starliner program has been beset by delays.

Among other issues, the onboard clock on a 2019 flight was off by 11 hours, while a 2023 launch was scrubbed due to inadequate parachute lines and flammable tape covering electrical wiring. An uncrewed capsule successfully docked and returned to Earth in 2022. 

Watch a livestream of the launch here (10:34 pm ET).

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