Took 'em long enough.

Participation Trophy

The third time's the charm — NASA and Boeing have finally done it.

After many years of delays, technical issues, an unsuccessful test flight and plenty of bad luck, Boeing has finally launched its much-maligned Starliner astronaut shuttle into space.

The United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket took off around 10:52 am, just as planned, from Space Launch Complex-41 at NASA's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams into orbit.

While it's far from the first time we've seen a privately developed spacecraft launch into space, Williams became the first woman to fly on the first crewed test flight of an orbital spacecraft.

It's a triumphant moment for the spacecraft, which has been in development for roughly a decade now. The project, which was meant to compete with SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule under NASA's commercial crew program, encountered plenty of setbacks, from the discovery of flammable materials inside the spacecraft to a strange "buzzing" sound that forced officials to scrub the first of three launch attempts last month.

Despite those hurdles, Boeing has now prevailed, limping over the finish line with today's crewed test launch.

Better Late

However, the elephant in the room is SpaceX, which has already made ten successful trips to the ISS over the last five years (and with a reusable rocket, to boot).

Nonetheless, it's still a momentous occasion in the world of space exploration, a big step in the United States' efforts to establish independent ways to get astronauts into space without relying on Russia.

"Congratulations to NASA, Boeing, and ULA on this morning’s launch to the space station, and Godspeed to Butch, Suni and Starliner on your flight!" SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell tweeted.

But Boeing isn't out of the woods just yet. The capsule is expected to take around 25 hours to reach the orbital space station, at which point it'll have to adjust its trajectory perfectly for docking (something the spacecraft has already done without any crew on board).

Needless to say, we wish Butch and Suni the best of luck.

More on the launch: Boeing Keeps Making Excuses to Push Back First Astronaut Launch

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