The Orion spacecraft with European Service Module will fly farther from Earth than any human-rated vehicle has ever flown before. This video gives an overview of the first mission – without astronauts – for Artemis, focussing on ESA’s European Service Module that powers the spacecraft.
The spacecraft will perform a flyby of the Moon, using lunar gravity to gain speed and propel itself 70 000 km beyond the Moon, almost half a million km from Earth – further than any human has ever travelled.
On its return journey, Orion will do another flyby of the Moon before heading back to Earth.
The total trip will take around 20 days, ending with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean without the European Service Module – it separates and burns up harmlessly in the atmosphere.
The second Artemis mission will have a similar flight plan but with four astronauts.
The European Service Module is ESA’s contribution to NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will send astronauts to the Moon and beyond. It provides electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen as well as keeping the spacecraft at the right temperature and on course.
The European Service Module has 33 thrusters, 11 km of electrical wiring, four propellant and two pressure tanks that all work together to supply propulsion and everything needed to keep astronauts alive far from Earth – there is no room for error.