Airbus will deliver its second-built European Service Module (ESM) to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for its Orion spacecraft.
The ESM-2 will be transported from its Germany-based storage site to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida by an Antonov cargo aircraft.
Airbus was selected as the prime contractor by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and manufacture six ESM’s for NASA’s space missions.
“Delivery of the second European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft marks another huge step forward on the journey to return astronauts to the Moon,” said Andreas Hammer, head of space exploration at Airbus.
The ESM-2 is considered a significant element of the Orion spacecraft, built to transport astronauts beyond Earth’s lower Orbit for the first time since the Apollo program in the 1970s.
“Working hand in hand with our customers ESA and NASA, and our industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Space, the program is moving apace, and we are ready to meet the challenges of returning to the lunar surface in 2024,” added Hammer.
The ESM module will provide propulsion, power, and thermal control to produce water and oxygen for astronauts in the upcoming space missions.
The Orion spacecraft is designed to carry four astronauts, providing life support for the crew’s sustenance during the flight and will facilitate the safe return to Earth’s atmosphere at high re-entry velocity.
The Orion spacecraft is planned to be docked with the international lunar gateway, an orbiting platform built for sustainable space exploration.
The ESM Module comprises more than 20,000 parts and components, weighing just over 13 tons, which will provide thrust and propulsion to the Orion spacecraft during launch.
The first ESM module will fly on NASA’s Artemis I mission to assist and enable human exploration of the Moon and Mars.