- Europe’s service module to power/supply NASA’s crew module
- Similar in concept to Apollo’s service and command modules
- First test flight, a lunar fly-by, set for 2017
NASA’S ORION SPACECRAFT will carry astronauts further into space than ever before using a module based on Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV).
ATV’s distinctive four-wing solar array is recognisable in this concept. The ATV-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion’s crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power, thermal control, as well as supplying water and gas to the astronauts in the habitable module.
The first Orion mission will be an uncrewed lunar fly-by in 2017, returning for a re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 11 kilometres per second – the fastest re-entry ever.
Albert Einstein to launch
This collaboration between ESA and NASA continues the spirit of international cooperation that forms the foundation of the International Space Station.
Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) have been resupplying the International Space Station since 2008. The fourth in the series, named Albert Einstein, is being readied for launch this year from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The ATV-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion’s crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power, thermal control, as well as supplying water and gas to the astronauts in the habitable module.
Critical element for exploration
The ATV performs many functions during missions to the International Space Station. The space freighter reboosts the Station into higher altitudes and can even push the orbital complex out of the way of space debris. While docked, ATV becomes an extra module for the astronauts. Lastly, at the end of its mission it leaves the Space Station with waste materials.
“ATV has proven itself on three flawless missions to the Space Station and this agreement is further confirmation that Europe is building advanced, dependable spacecraft,” said Nico Dettmann, Head of ATV’s production programme.
Thomas Reiter, ESA director of Human Spaceflight and Operations says: “NASA’s decision to co-operate with ESA on their exploration programme with ESA delivering a critical element for the mission is a strong sign of trust and confidence in ESA’s capabilities, for ESA it is an important contribution to human exploration.”
Adapted from information issued by NASA / ESA.
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