Boeing Starliner engineers and technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center recently installed the base heat shield to the Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft.
The base heat shield protects the reusable Starliner and future crew members from atmospheric re-entry temperatures as hot as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
In December or early January, Boeing plans to repeat a Starliner test flight without a crew, in hopes of reaching the space station this time.
If that goes well, Butch Wilmore, Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann will fly to the space station aboard a Starliner as early as June 2021, and remain in orbit anywhere between two weeks and six months.
It’s the second crew switch for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, grounded until the end of this year or early next because of software problems encountered during the first test flight last December.