Another major hardware component for Boeing’s second Starliner spacecraft recently arrived at the company’s assembly facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome – basically one half of the Starliner pressure vessel – arrived at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, closely following the arrival of the lower dome and docking hatch in early May.
The three components will be outfitted separately with wiring and lines, avionics and other systems before the pieces are connected to form a complete Starliner the company is calling Spacecraft 1. From there, it will be outfitted with electrical and fluid systems before engineers will attach the outer thermal protection shielding and the base heat shield that will protect the crew during re-entry.
The upper and lower domes are distinctive with the honeycomb pattern machined into the aluminum to reduce weight and increase strength to handle the flight stresses. The domes are created using a weldless spin forming process that is then machined into the honeycomb pattern.