An engineer guides the upper dome of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner as it is connected to the lower dome to complete the first hull of the Starliner’s Structural Test Article, a prototype spacecraft that is identical to the operational versions but not meant to fly in space. The STA is built to endure harsh tests mimicking conditions of spaceflight to prove the design and its manufacturing techniques will work for space-bound Starliners.
The work was performed inside the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Starliner is one of two spacecraft in development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that will enable astronauts to fly to the International Space Station on a new generation of spacecraft made in America and launching from Florida’s Space Coast. Commercial crew missions to the space station will restore America’s human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of time dedicated to scientific research off the Earth, for the Earth and beyond.
A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.
The Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The rocket’s configuration was recently unveiled.