Airbus announced the second European Service Module ESM-2 flight model was well into the integration test phase, as the European planemaker prepares it for its manned mission to the moon.

Airbus has already completed the ESM-2 gimbal system testing of the flight module’s main engine, which “swivels from side to side for maneuvering and directional control during spaceflight”.

The ESM-2 is the European Space Agency’s (ESA) contribution to NASA’s Orion spacecraft that would send astronauts to the moon and beyond. The ESM-2 would provide the Orion spacecraft with propulsion, power, water, oxygen, and nitrogen. The ESM-2 marks the first time NASA will use a European-built system as a substantial element in powering an US spacecraft.

“The development and preparation of human-rated spacecraft and modules have a long history at Bremen, starting with the Spacelab laboratory that was carried aboard the Space Shuttle,” said Mark Kelly, Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) Manager for ESM-2. 

The ESM-2 is one of three flight models currently being developed. The ESM-1 is undergoing final preparations for an unmanned mission to the moon using the Orion spacecraft at the end of 2021, while ESM-3 has just begun its integration phase in Europe.

“In February, Airbus signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) covering the construction of three additional European Service Modules for Orion. Two of them will be deployed as part of the NASA Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway,” read the statement.

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