After years of designing, months of building, weeks of preparation, days of intense concentration and hours of fine-tuning, the upper and lower domes of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Structural Test Article (STA) came together in Florida on May 2.
This is the first Starliner to be assembled in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility. It’s also the first vehicle to call the former orbiter processing facility home since space shuttle Discovery. Its purpose is twofold – it will validate the manufacturing methods Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program team will use for flight-ready Starliner crew modules and verify the performance of the spacecraft design. After a few final touches and systems checks, the crew module and a service module also under construction in Florida will be shipped to Huntington Beach for months of extensive testing. Those tests will ensure future Starliners can withstand extreme temperatures and engine firings in space as well as the pressure of launch, ascent and re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
In simple terms, it will be shaked, baked and tested to the extreme.