June 07, 2021

Airbus Readies the Orion European Service Module for its Crewed Mission to the Moon

June 07, 2021

Airbus Readies the Orion European Service Module for its Crewed Mission to the Moon

The second Orion European Service Module (ESM) flight model is well into the integration test phase as Airbus readies it for NASA’s Artemis II mission which will return humans to the moon after more than fifty years. ESM-2’s assembly, integration and testing is close to completion at Airbus facilities and include gimbal testing of its main engine, which is using a refurbished engine from Space Shuttle Atlantis to power humans back to the Moon. The completed and tested module will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the second half of 2021, mated and tested with the Orion Crew module, and integrated onto the heavy lift launch vehicle SLS for a planned 2022 mission. The ESM will deliver propulsion, power, water, oxygen, and nitrogen on NASA’s mission – as well as keeping it at the right temperature and on course during flight. Orion will open a new era in space exploration, taking astronauts back to the Moon and beyond.

Airbus is advancing the second European Service Module flight model for NASA’s Orion spacecraft – designated ESM-2 – through its integration test phase, which included gimbal testing of the module’s main engine.
Readying Orion’s “powerhouse”
The ESM marks a major partnership milestone between Airbus’ customer ESA and NASA. NASA will use an Airbus system as a critical element in powering and propelling an American spacecraft, recognizing Airbus’ 50 years of expertise.
“America’s return to the moon is a culmination of more than 50 years of allied cooperation in human spaceflight and space exploration, with Airbus teams both in Europe and in the U.S. playing a leading role in the successful implementation” says Debra Facktor, head of Airbus U.S. Space Systems.  “Our support is enhanced through Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc.’s local presence in the major NASA and contractor centers in Washington, DC., Florida, Houston, and Colorado.” – Debra Facktor, Head of AIRBUS U.S. Space Systems
More than 20,000 parts and components are used in each ESM, from electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support supplies for the astronauts, as well as approximately 12 kilometres of cables. ESM-2 is one of three flight models currently in different phases of production, integration, testing and mission preparation. The first – designated ESM-1 – is undergoing final preparations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center before its launch on Orion’s first, un-crewed, test mission Artemis I at the end of 2021; while ESM-3 which has just begun its integration phase at Airbus will provide the transportation for humankind’s return to the lunar surface.
More European Service Modules on the way
“Integration is a long process,” added Assembly, Integration and Test AIT shop floor Manager Paolo Artusio. “We have learned many lessons from ESM-1, which we’ve implemented on a rolling basis for the second flight model. And we’re also doing the same thing in transitioning from ESM-2 to ESM-3.” Airbus has recently concluded a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) covering the construction of three additional European Service Modules for Orion. In the longer term it is planned to dock the Orion with the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway – a moon orbiting platform that will enable a sustainable space exploration architecture extending humanity’s presence in space.
Orion ESM Gimbal Test
Airbus is advancing the second European Service Module flight model for NASA’s Orion spacecraft – designated ESM-2 – through its integration test phase.

The second Orion European Service Module (ESM) flight model is well into the integration test phase as Airbus readies it for NASA’s Artemis II mission which will return humans to the moon after more than fifty years. ESM-2’s assembly, integration and testing is close to completion at Airbus facilities and include gimbal testing of its main engine, which is using a refurbished engine from Space Shuttle Atlantis to power humans back to the Moon. The completed and tested module will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the second half of 2021, mated and tested with the Orion Crew module, and integrated onto the heavy lift launch vehicle SLS for a planned 2022 mission. The ESM will deliver propulsion, power, water, oxygen, and nitrogen on NASA’s mission – as well as keeping it at the right temperature and on course during flight. Orion will open a new era in space exploration, taking astronauts back to the Moon and beyond.

Airbus is advancing the second European Service Module flight model for NASA’s Orion spacecraft – designated ESM-2 – through its integration test phase, which included gimbal testing of the module’s main engine.
Readying Orion’s “powerhouse”
The ESM marks a major partnership milestone between Airbus’ customer ESA and NASA. NASA will use an Airbus system as a critical element in powering and propelling an American spacecraft, recognizing Airbus’ 50 years of expertise.
“America’s return to the moon is a culmination of more than 50 years of allied cooperation in human spaceflight and space exploration, with Airbus teams both in Europe and in the U.S. playing a leading role in the successful implementation” says Debra Facktor, head of Airbus U.S. Space Systems.  “Our support is enhanced through Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc.’s local presence in the major NASA and contractor centers in Washington, DC., Florida, Houston, and Colorado.”  – Debra Facktor, Head of AIRBUS U.S. Space Systems
More than 20,000 parts and components are used in each ESM, from electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support supplies for the astronauts, as well as approximately 12 kilometres of cables. ESM-2 is one of three flight models currently in different phases of production, integration, testing and mission preparation. The first – designated ESM-1 – is undergoing final preparations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center before its launch on Orion’s first, un-crewed, test mission Artemis I at the end of 2021; while ESM-3 which has just begun its integration phase at Airbus will provide the transportation for humankind’s return to the lunar surface.
More European Service Modules on the way
“Integration is a long process,” added Assembly, Integration and Test AIT shop floor Manager Paolo Artusio. “We have learned many lessons from ESM-1, which we’ve implemented on a rolling basis for the second flight model. And we’re also doing the same thing in transitioning from ESM-2 to ESM-3.” Airbus has recently concluded a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) covering the construction of three additional European Service Modules for Orion. In the longer term it is planned to dock the Orion with the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway – a moon orbiting platform that will enable a sustainable space exploration architecture extending humanity’s presence in space.
Orion ESM Gimbal Test
Airbus is advancing the second European Service Module flight model for NASA’s Orion spacecraft – designated ESM-2 – through its integration test phase.