Boeing Starliner (finally) limps into orbit

Engineers at Boeing can let out a big sigh of relief.

The defense contractor’s much-delayed Starliner spacecraft finally made its way into stable orbit Thursday evening, after launching atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the culmination of years of setbacks and complications.

But even in the course of that small victory, not everything went according to plan. Two of Starliner’s thrusters didn’t fire as planned just over 30 minutes into the flight. One thruster only managed to provide orbital insertion thrust for a single second. Its backup fired for 25 seconds before also giving up.

Fortunately, a third backup thruster was able to heave Starliner into stable orbit.

Boeing claims everything went as planned.