Boeing and NASA decide to proceed with the historic crewed launch of a new spacecraft.

After years of delays and a dizzying array of setbacks during test flights, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is finally set to make its inaugural crewed launch.

The mission is on track to take off from Florida as soon as May 6, carrying NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore to the International Space Station,

“Design and development is hard — particularly with a human space vehicle,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and Starliner program manager at Boeing, during a Thursday news briefing.

“There’s a number of things that were surprises along the way that we had to overcome. … It certainly made the team very, very strong. I’m very proud of how they’ve overcome every single issue that we’ve encountered and gotten us to this point.”

Boeing and NASA officials made the decision Thursday to move forward with the launch attempt in less than two weeks. However, Ken Bowersox, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate

“This is history in the making,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said of the upcoming Starliner mission during a March 22 news conference. “We’re now in the golden era of space exploration.”

NASA did not initially envision, however, that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon would operate on its own for nearly four years before Boeing’s Starliner reached its first crewed test flight.

As recently as 2016, NASA was planning its schedule with the view that the Starliner would beat the Crew Dragon to the launchpad.

Meanwhile, SpaceX made history in May 2020 with the launch of its Demo-2 test flight, carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on a two-month mission to the International Space Station.

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