Boeing sends crewed Starliner into orbit

US aerospace giant Boeing has successfully launched its first crewed test flight into orbit. The Starliner capsule is carrying a pair of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

The launch took place at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday.

The astronauts managed to avoid the technical problems that had dogged two attempts in recent weeks. Multiple issues, including a computer glitch, were to blame for the canceled launches.

The Starliner will take just over a day to reach the ISS. The astronauts will spend about a week there before using the capsule to return to Earth. They are scheduled to touch down in the southwestern US with the help of a parachute and airbags.

The Starliner had already carried out two test flights without a crew, with the second successfully docking with the ISS and returning to Earth. The latest mission is to certify that the capsule is ready to carry astronauts.

NASA had relied for years on Russian Soyuz rockets to get its astronauts to orbit. Then, four years ago, the US company SpaceX launched its first crewed mission.

NASA is expected to use the Starliner as another way to taxi astronauts into space.