Boeing's Starliner space capsule launched on key test flight to orbit

By Joey Roulette

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) -Boeing's new Starliner capsule was launched Thursday on a do-over uncrewed test flight bound for the International Space Station, aiming to deliver the company a much-needed success after more than two years of delays and costly engineering setbacks.

The gumdrop-shaped CST-100 Starliner blasted off shortly before 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carried aloft atop an Atlas V rocket furnished by the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance (ULA).

If all goes as planned, the capsule will arrive at the space station in about 24 hours and dock with the research outpost orbiting some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth on Friday evening.

The Boeing craft is to spend four to five days attached to the space station before undocking and flying back to Earth, with a parachute landing cushioned by airbags on the desert floor of White Sands, New Mexico.

A successful mission will move the long-delayed Starliner a major step closer to providing NASA with a second reliable means of ferrying astronauts to and from the space station.