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NASA launch fails as Starliner 'has not reached the orbit required' for space mission

Boeing’s Starliner was launched this morning heading on its mission towards the International Space Station. But, the astronaut capsule failed to reach the orbit required to continue its course to the International Space Station, after experiencing an "an off-nominal insertion."

Boeing Space wrote on Twitter: “Starliner has an off-nominal insertion, but we have spacecraft control.

“The guidance and control team is assessing their next maneuver.”

In a statement, Boeing said that after a successful launch the “vehicle experienced an off-nominal insertion.”

It said: “After launching successfully at 6:36am EST Friday on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the Boeing Starliner space vehicle experienced an off-nominal insertion.

Nasa news

The Starliner didn't reach orbit required to continue its course to the International Space Station (Image: NC)

Nasa launch

The launch from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida (Image: NASA•TWITTER)

“The spacecraft currently is in a safe and stable configuration.

Flight controllers have completed a successful initial burn and are assessing next steps.

“Boeing and NASA are working together to review options for the test and mission opportunities available while the Starliner remains in orbit.

“A joint news conference will be held at 9am Eastern on NASA TV.”

Boeing flight controllers

Boeing flight controllers pictured on NASA's Twitter feed (Image: NASA•TWITTER)

Just after the launch this morning, NASA wrote on Twitter: “Happening Now: Flight controllers are turning Boeing Space's Starliner spacecraft to a position that will recharge its solar arrays. Starliner is currently in a stable orbit.”

A NASA live stream will see a joint news conference at 9am local time to explain the options for the test of the Strainer as it remains in orbit.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator, wrote on Twitter: “Starliner in stable orbit.

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Nasa news: Boeing

The spacecraft currently is in a safe and stable configuration (Image: NASA•TWITTER)

“The burn needed for a rendezvous with the ISS did not happen. Working the issue.”

He later wrote: “More information at 9am ET news conference.”

The press conference was pushed back until 9.15am to 9.30am Boeing later confirmed.

Speaking during the press conference, Jim Bridenstine said: “Today a lot of things went right.

“This is why we test…we did have some challenges today when the space craft separated from the launch vehicle we did not get the orbital insertion burn we were hoping for.

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NASA news

Which nations have been to the Moon? (Image: NC)

“It appears as though the mission elapsed timing system had an error in it. That anomaly resulted in the vehicle believing the timing was different from what it was.

“Because that timing was a little bit off, what ended up happening is the spacecraft tried to maintain a very precise control it normally wouldn’t have tried to maintain and it burned a lot during that part of the flight.

“By the time we were able to get signals up to actually command it to do the orbital insertion burn it was a little bit too late.”

It comes as the US took a big step towards being able to launch astronauts into orbit again.

The automated mission to the ISS was scheduled to last a week.

NASA launching Boeing shuttle

NASA launching Boeing shuttle on Friday morning (Image: GETTY)

Americans have not launched from their own soil since 2011 when shuttles were retired.

Starliner is the second of the new systems NASA hopes will restore independent human access to low-Earth orbit.

Before the launch, the agency's administrator, Bridenstine, said: “NASA wants to be one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace for human spaceflight in the future.

"The ultimate goal being we want to drive down costs, increase innovation, and increase access to space in a way that we've never seen before."