Boeing’s Starliner Launches Astronauts for the First Time, Joining SpaceX as NASA’s Second Taxi Service

Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams

Cape Canaveral: In a historic liftoff, Boeing’s Starliner capsule carried a pair of NASA test pilots to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday. Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams embarked on the inaugural crewed flight of the new spacecraft, marking a significant milestone for Boeing.

Here are the key details:

  1. Delayed Debut: Starliner’s crewed debut was years late due to spacecraft flaws. The company faced unrelated safety issues on its airplane side, adding to the challenges.
  2. Confidence in Boeing: Wilmore and Williams, both retired Navy captains and former space station residents, expressed full confidence in Boeing’s ability to execute this test flight successfully.
  3. Previous Hurdles: Starliner’s initial uncrewed test flight in 2019 encountered software glitches, necessitating a repeat before NASA-approved crewed missions. A 2022 do-over improved matters, but parachute problems and flammable tape issues persisted.
  4. Third Attempt: Wednesday’s launch was the third attempt with astronauts since early May. It followed a series of rocket-related problems, including a recent helium leak in the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Fortunately, managers deemed the leak manageable and not a safety concern.
Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams