What time is Boeing's 1st Starliner astronaut launch for NASA on May 21?

Update for May 14: Boeing announced today that teams are now targeting a launch date of no earlier than 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) on Tuesday, May 21, to complete additional testing on the Atlas V rocket that will launch Starliner. 

After years of delays, Boeing is finally ready to launch its first-ever Starliner astronaut mission for NASA on a test flight to the International Space Station on May 21, and if you're hoping to watch the launch online, you'll need to know when to tune in.

But don't fret, space fans. We've got you covered. Currently, Boeing's first Starliner to carry astronauts is set to launch into orbit at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) on Tuesday, May 21 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The mission will launch NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Sunita "Suni" Williams on a week-long test flight to the space station, a shakedown cruise Boeing calls its Crew Flight Test, or CFT. You can follow the mission with our Starliner live updates page and watch the launch live on Monday.

Related: Boeing Starliner 1st astronaut flight: Live updates

Boeing's Crew Flight Test Starliner spacecraft is mated to its Atlas V rocket ahead of its first astronaut launch at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. (Image credit: NASA)

If all goes well, Boeing's Starliner will launch the astronauts to the space station, dock the day after launch and return to Earth up to eight days later with a landing in the desert of the southwestern United States (previous uncrewed test flights landed at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico). NASA has picked Boeing's Starliner as one of two astronaut taxis for space station flights — SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is the other — but this CFT test flight is years overdue, and follows two uncrewed Starliner flights, a failed test flight in December 2019 and a successful one in May 2022

"This will give us that additional capabilities because we always look for a backup," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told reporters in a press conference on Friday (May 3). On Friday, Boeing and NASA agreed Starliner is ready to carry its first astronauts and gave the go ahead for launch, so here's when and how to watch it fly on May 21. 

What time is Boeing's CFT Starliner launch?

NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Butch Wilmore (right) and Suni Williams exit the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a mission dress rehearsal on Friday, April 26. (Image credit: NASA/Frank Micheaux)

Currently, Boeing's CFT Starliner is scheduled to launch to the ISS at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) on Tuesday, May 21 from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. 

Related: Here's what to expect on Boeing Starliner's 1st astronaut test flight

Can I watch Boeing's Starliner astronaut launch?

Yes, you can watch Boeing's CFT Starliner launch and subsequent mission events live in a series of webcasts. On launch day, NASA TV will offer a livestream of the launch a few hours before launch on YouTube, NASA+ and its social media channels. The webcast will run continuously through liftoff and end just after Starliner enters Earth orbit shortly after the launch. Space.com will simulcast the NASA livestream on this page and you'll be able to watch it on our webcast page.

Boeing will host its own Starliner launch livestream, likely using NASA's broadcast, at its Starliner launch website. ULA will also host its own Starliner launch webcast on its own Atlas V mission website.

However, NASA will not end its launch webcasts there. The space agency held a press conference early Tuesday, May 7, at 12 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT) to discuss the results of Starliner's launch. That press conference will be led by NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, a former astronaut and space shuttle commander, and be livestreamed on NASA TV and NASA's YouTube channel. Livestream events are also planned for docking and crew arrival a day after launch.

What if Boeing's Starliner CFT astronaut flight can't launch on May 21?

Currently, Boeing, ULA and NASA have not set dates for further opportunities to launch the CFT mission if Boeing's Starliner CFT mission can't launch on May 21.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.