US astronauts on Boeing Starliner reach ISS

Two US astronauts boarded the International Space Station after docking at the orbiting facility with their Boeing Starliner spacecraft.

Sunita Williams and Barry "Butch" Wilmore traveled for more than 24 hours after launch on Wednesday to join seven other astronauts on the ISS. Those seven had reached the station aboard SpaceX's Dragon or Russian Soyuz craft.

Williams and Wilmore are expected to stay for about a week before using the Starliner to return to Earth. Boeing says its team is "focused" on bringing the pair back safely.

NASA has been partnering with private companies to find a "cost-effective" means of transporting astronauts. For the past four years, it has relied on the Dragon, but the Starliner gives it another option. Officials say having two US-made vehicles provides a safe "backup."

SpaceX spent Thursday experimenting with the most powerful launch vehicle ever built, called the Starship. Its past three attempts had ended in failure, either with the vehicle blowing up or not being able to reenter the Earth's atmosphere. For the first time, it succeeded in both launching and returning the spacecraft to Earth.

That flight did not have anyone on board, but in the near future SpaceX hopes to use the Starship to send people to the moon, Mars and "beyond."