The Boeing Starliner crew capsule, on a final unmanned test run sitting on top of a ULA Atlas 5 rocket, launched successfully this morning from Cape Canaveral. If the test flight finishes successfully, a manned mission is scheduled for early 2020. It will carry up to seven passengers to the International Space Station, the first American craft to fly humans to the ISS since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011.
UPDATE: Well, the launch wasn’t entirely successful after all. According to NASA, “Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is not in its planned orbit. The spacecraft currently is in a stable configuration while flight controllers are troubleshooting.” More later.
UPDATE 2: Apparently a faulty timer caused the spacecraft to burn too much fuel trying to get into the wrong orbit. By the time it was discovered and fixed, there wasn’t enough fuel left to attempt to dock with the ISS. So the mission has ended in failure.