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Boeing launches Starliner capsule after numerous delays

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NBC, KYMA/KECY) - Boeing has launched the first crewed mission of its Starliner capsule on Wednesday.

The capsule launched aboard an Atlas V rocket a little before 11:00am Eastern. The test flight is a major milestone for the project, which has been plagued by delays.

Following the launch, officials held a post-launch news briefing, applauding the successful liftoff while also stressing the importance of making sure the mission will be safe.

"This is another milestone in this extraordinary history of NASA. And I want to give my personal congratulations to the whole team that went through a lot of trial and tribulation. But they had perseverance, that's what we do at NASA. We don't launch until it's right.

So this is a special moment. It's another one of those great markers in history. And it is a program that -- what NASA does is hard. Space Flight is hard. But it's worth doing."

Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

"I know it's really easy to lose patience as you're waiting for launches to happen. But as I said before, good things are worth waiting for. And I hope you agree with me that today's launch was definitely worth waiting for.

I'm really looking forward to seeing two US vehicles at the International Space Station. I know Butch and Sunil probably get a kick out of that. If they get a chance to look out the windows and see a dragon there see a Starliner there. It's something that I think all of us should be proud of."

Ken Bowersox, Associate Administrator, NASA Space Operations Mission Directorate

"The proofs in the pudding. Look what we've been through in all of the different space programs of NASA from the very getgo, and sometimes they were very painful. And when we didn't get it right, because mistakes were made, we, the entire country suffered. So my hat's off to the team here. They waited until they got it right."

Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

Boeing's Starliner was developed in partnership with NASA to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

The capsule is expected to dock with the ISS just after noon on Thursday.

The two NASA astronauts on board the Starliner, Barry "Butch" wilmore and Sunita Williams, will spend about a week on the ISS before beginning the return journey to Earth.

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