Wednesday marked a new path for America's manned space flight program as a public/private partnership launched two astronauts into orbit.

After two unsuccessful attempts to launch astronauts into space, 'Boeing Starliner' got the job done. The joint project relied heavily on technology developed in Huntsville.  

NASA and Boeing lifted two astronauts into space Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Liftoff was slated for 10:52 a.m. and occurred without a glitch. The launch was Boeing's first piloted space flight. 

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and Boeing Starliner carrying astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams is headed for the International Space Station (ISS). They are expected to arrive at the space station after a flight of about 24 hours and dock with ISS approximately 250 miles above Earth.

The first Boeing launch attempt was on May 6. NASA, Boeing, and ULA scrubbed the launch due to a suspect oxygen relief valve on the Atlas V rocket’s Centaur second stage. 

The second Boeing attempt was scrubbed Saturday less than four minutes before blastoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center because a ground system computer triggered an automatic abort command that shut down the launch sequence.

"Suni and I, as we were traveling to the pad, saw many American flags and many of you were waving flags at us," astronaut Wilmore said less than six minutes before the rocket launched. "And then as we reached the pad, we looked up and, of course, there's an American flag on the side of the white room, also one on the side of the rocket itself. We know that that represents unity and resilience and unified efforts for the common good. That's what Suni and I have witnessed this last month."

"Each of you were displaying what this nation's forefathers envisioned, a people committed to God, family and country. A people who use their gifts and talents for the common good, and are passionate and tough. And we all know when the going gets tough, and it often does, the tough get going, and you have. And Suni and I are honored to share this dream of space flight with each and every one of you."

NASA said that Wilmore and Williams will be at the ISS for a week, testing "the Starliner spacecraft and its subsystems before NASA works to complete final certification of the transportation system for rotational missions to the orbiting laboratory as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program."

Astronauts Alabama News
Astronauts Suni Williams and Bruce Wilmore. NASA

Alabama Congressman Dale Strong (R-Huntsville) congratulated the team for the successful launch:

"Congratulations on the first successful crewed launch of the Starliner Spacecraft. This launch was the result of collaboration and years of dedicated work, much of which took place right here in North Alabama."

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler’s beat is the colorful and positive about Alabama. He writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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