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Science & Exploration

N° 5–2017: Call for Media: Signing of industrial contract for Orion spacecraft’s first astronaut mission

8 February 2017

A European Service Module will power NASA’s Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon and back in 2018. ESA and Airbus Defence and Space have agreed with NASA to build a second module for a second mission with astronauts for launch as early as 2021.

Humans are going to leave low orbit for the first time since 1972 and European hardware will provide propulsion, electrical power, water, thermal control and atmosphere for the crew of up to four.

The agreement is a further extension of ESA and NASA’s collaboration in human spaceflight continuing from the International Space Station and a strong recognition of Airbus and ESA expertise.

ESA will sign the contract with Airbus Defence and Space to build the second European Service Module at the integration hall in Bremen, Germany, where the first module is already being built.

ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration, David Parker, will be present, together with ESA’s latest astronaut recruit, Matthias Maurer.

To witness the signing of the Orion European Service Module contract, you are cordially invited to a


 Press Briefing

on Thursday 16 February 2017

at 11:00 CET

at  Airbus Defence and Space



The press conference will feature:

  •  David Parker, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration
  • James Free, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations.
  • Nicolas Chamussy, Airbus, Head of Airbus Defence and Space
  • Representative from DLR German Aerospace Center (tbd)
  • Bremen Senate representative (tbd)
  • ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer


Media wishing to attend should register via by 14 February.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in the Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications domain.

Learn more about ESA at

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office

Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99