Carrying a heat shield that will be used on the next generation of NASA spacecraft, a "Super Guppy" aircraft touched down at Hanscom Air Force Base on Tuesday, March 26, according to WCVB-TV.
On Wednesday, under protection of a State Police security convoy, the massive heat shield was transported to Textron Defense Systems in Wilmington. Textron will cover the shield’s outer surface with Avcoat, an ablative material system that also was used on NASA’s Apollo spacecraft.
The coated heat shield is critical in protecting the lives of astronauts during re-entry.
This will be the final stop for the heat shield before it is shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where it will be attached to the bottom of the Orion capsule for its first test flight next year. Called Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion will travel further than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years.
The Super Guppy was used to transport large cargo such as the heat shield, which could not be transported on smaller aircraft, according to WCVB.