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Boeing's Starliner makes launch debut, but won't dock with ISS after going off course

Leaders at Boeing and NASA said the spacecraft went off course after launch.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Boeing's new Starliner crew capsule hit a snag in orbit after launching on its first unmanned test flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Everything went flawlessly as the Atlas V rocket lifted off from the launch pad 41 carrying Starliner. But, about 30 minutes into the flight, Boeing reported that the capsule's insertion into orbit was not normal.

An onboard thruster firing did not happen, which left the spacecraft in an unplanned orbit. During a Friday morning news conference, leaders at Boeing, NASA and ULA said the Starliner went off course after launch and won't be able to rendezvous and dock at the International Space Station.

Starliner was expected to head in for docking at the ISS's forward port around 8:27 a.m.

Teams are now preparing the spacecraft to come back to Earth and land at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where the crew capsule had been tested.

Still, the launch and mission are considered a major milestone for NASA in its push to end the reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get astronauts to and from the ISS. 

The agency has been using the Russian spacecraft since the end of the Space Shuttle era more than eight years ago. The transportation costs more than $80 million per seat, according to CBS News.

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