ESA image: Inside a rocket's belly

January 27, 2016
Credit: ESA/NASA

An unusual view of a spacecraft – looking from below, directly into the thruster nozzles. This is a test version of ESA's service module for NASA's Orion spacecraft that will send astronauts further into space than ever before.

The European Service Module provides electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen, and thermal control as well as propelling the spacecraft.

The large cone is the spacecraft's main engine, the same model that was used on the Space Shuttle for orbital manoeuvres. The surrounding red cones are auxiliary thrusters. The engines will provide almost 30 kN of thrust, only one-tenth that of a Jumbo Jet engine, but enough to manoeuvre in space. More thrusters are carried on the module's sides.

This structural test model is used for testing purposes before installing the real thing. It is as close to the flight version as possible while keeping costs and development time manageable. The structure and weight are the same, while mass equivalents stand in for electronics boxes not needed for the series of tests.

The model was installed under a test version of the Crew Module Adapter, and sits on the Spacecraft Adapter that will attach Orion to its launch vehicle. This is the first time the European hardware has been physically connected to NASA's elements.

The will be shaken at NASA's Plum Brook station in Sandusky, Ohio, USA, to recreate the vibrations of launch, as well as being subjected to acoustic and shock environments.

Explore further: Image: Orion service module stacking assembly secured for flight

Related Stories

Orion's European module ready for testing

November 11, 2015

A test version of ESA's service module for NASA's Orion spacecraft arrived in the US yesterday after leaving its assembly site in Italy last weekend.

Orion test sets stage for ESA service module

December 8, 2014

Today's flight and splashdown of NASA's first Orion spacecraft paves the way for future human exploration beyond low orbit powered by ESA's European Service Module.

Image: Orion's first crew module complete

September 9, 2014

NASA's first completed Orion crew module sits atop its service module at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew and service module will be transferred together on ...

Image: Orion test lab mockup for next flight completed

May 14, 2015

The construction of an Orion crew module and crew module adapter full-scale mockup has been completed at the Lockheed Martin Littleton, Colorado facility. This mockup was transferred to the Orion Test Lab (OTL) on May 13, ...

First pieces of NASA's Orion for next mission come together

September 9, 2015

NASA is another small step closer to sending astronauts on a journey to Mars. On Saturday, engineers at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans welded together the first two segments of the Orion crew module ...

Recommended for you

Freeze-dried food and 1 bathroom: 6 simulate Mars in dome

January 20, 2017

Crammed into a dome with one bathroom, six scientists will spend eight months munching on mostly freeze-dried foods—with a rare treat of Spam—and have only their small sleeping quarters to retreat to for solace.

Image: Wavemaker moon Daphnis

January 20, 2017

The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small ...

Video: A colorful 'landing' on Pluto

January 20, 2017

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip ...

The evolution of massive galaxy clusters

January 20, 2017

Galaxy clusters have long been recognized as important laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. The advent of the new generation of millimeter and submillimeter wave survey telescopes, like the South ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.