Airbus' second European Service Module (ESM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft has been manufactured.
Airbus' second European Service Module (ESM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft has been manufactured.

Airbus says that its second European Service Module (ESM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft has been manufactured.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus as the prime contractor for the development and manufacture of six ESMs altogether.

Plans are for the Orion spacecraft to transport astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the first time since the end of the Apollo programme in the 1970s. The ESMs will provide propulsion, power and thermal control and will supply astronauts with water and oxygen on future missions.

According to Airbus, each ESM is a cylinder around 4m2 and comprises more than 20,000 parts and components including carbon fiber sheets and panels. It has a four-wing solar array (19m across when unfurled) that generates enough energy to power two households.

‘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. Working hand in hand with our customers ESA and NASA, and our industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Space, the programme is moving apace and we are ready to meet the challenges of returning to the lunar surface in 2024,’ said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus.

This story uses material from Airbus, with editorial changes made by Materials Today.