After years of planning, development, building and integration, the European Service module that will power the Orion spacecraft on its journey into lunar space is ready to be shipped. In November the fully integrated, tested, and sealed European workhorse will leave Bremen on an Antonov cargo plane for Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA where it will be integrated with the rest of the Orion spacecraft.
ESA’s European service module will provide power, water, air and electricity to NASA’s Orion exploration spacecraft that will eventually fly beyond the Moon with astronauts. The European Service Module is now complete for Orion’s first mission that will do a lunar fly-by without astronauts to demonstrate the spacecraft’s capabilities.
Orion’s solar wings will be shipped separately, also from Bremen. In the USA the module will be stacked together with NASA’s Crew Module Adaptor and Crew Module, the first time the complete spacecraft will be on display.
More tests await the Orion spacecraft at NASA’s Plum Brook facility where it will be put in the world’s largest vacuum chamber to simulate spaceflight as well as being subjected to acoustic tests to simulate the intense vibrations Orion will endure when launched on the world’s largest rocket, NASA’s Space Launch Systems.
This is a proud moment for Europe. For the first time, NASA will use a European-built system as a critical element to power an American spacecraft, extending the international cooperation of the International Space Station into deep space.
Work is already underway on the second European Service Module. The structure is complete and over 11 km of cables are being meticulously placed in preparation for the computers and equipment that will keep astronauts alive and well for the second Orion mission called Exploration Mission-2.
Keep up to date with the European Service Module space adventure via the Orion blog.