Airbus Sends 1st ESM for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft
Airbus will deliver the first European Service Module (ESM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft from its aerospace site in Bremen, Germany on Nov. 5 2018. An Antonov cargo aircraft will fly the ESM to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is the result of four years of development and construction, and is a key milestone in the project. ESA selected Airbus as the prime contractor for the development and manufacturing of the first ESM in November 2014.
The ESM is a key element of Orion, the next-generation spacecraft that aims to transport astronauts beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the first time since the end of the Apollo program in the 1970s. The module helps provide propulsion, power, and thermal control to supply astronauts with water and oxygen on future missions. The ESM is installed underneath the crew module.
The launch of the Orion spacecraft with NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket is known as Exploration Mission-1 and is scheduled for 2020. This mission will be uncrewed and will take the spacecraft more than 64,000 kilometers beyond the Moon. The first human spaceflight mission, Exploration Mission-2, is planned for 2022. NASA will use this mission beyond the Moon to develop the capabilities to send humans to Mars.