Orion is NASA’s next exploration spacecraft to transport astronauts to the vicinity of the Moon and to the Deep Space Gateway orbiting the Moon. The spacecraft will hold four people and send them further than any human beings have travelled from Earth than ever before.
ESA is supplying the European Service Module for Orion, in an arrangement that stems from the International Space Station partnership. Based on ESA’s proven Automated Transfer Vehicles for supplying the International Space Station, the module will provide everything to keep the astronauts alive, including oxygen, water, thermal control, electricity and propulsion.
The working name for Orion was Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle because it is designed to perform in many scenarios such as transporting astronauts to the International Space Station as well as to the vicinity of the Moon, to an asteroid fragment in lunar orbit or to transfer elements of the Deep Space Gateway.
The large Orion – over 26 tonnes – requires a heavy lifter to propel it far from Earth: NASA’s Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket in production.
Each Orion mission will include other payloads such as smaller satellites and elements of the Deep Space Gateway. The gateway elements will either fly separately from Orion after separation from the main rocket stage or be transported by Orion as a crewed space tug.
Read more about Orion and its European Service Module on its own mini-site.