Orion's first Service Module integration complete

September 19, 2018, European Space Agency
Orion Service Module-1 radiator installation. Credit: ESA–A. Conigli

Last week at the Airbus integration hall in Bremen, Germany, technicians installed the last radiator on the European Service Module for NASA's Orion spacecraft marking the module's finished integration.

ESA's European service module will provide power, water, air and electricity to NASA's Orion exploration that will eventually fly beyond the Moon with astronauts. The European Service Module is now complete for Orion's first mission that will do a lunar fly-by without astronauts to demonstrate the spacecraft's capabilities.

Much like closing the bonnet on a car, with the radiators in place technicians can no longer access the internals of the European service module, symbolically ending the assembly and integration of the module that will fly further into our Solar System than any other human-rated spacecraft has ever flown before.

Technicians worked 24 hours a day in three shifts to complete the service module's assembly which is now going through the last stages of its extensive testing. Engineers will put the module through its paces with functional tests that include checking the newly installed radiators and testing the propulsion system with its intricate pipelines that deliver fuel and oxidiser to the spacecraft's 33 engines.

View from below: Orion European Service Module-1. Credit: ESA–A. Conigli

Once complete the module will be packed and flown to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Orion's solar wings will be shipped separately, also from Bremen. In the USA the module will be stacked together with NASA's Crew Module Adaptor and Crew Module, the first time the complete spacecraft will be on display.

More tests await the Orion spacecraft at NASA's Plum Brook facility where it will be put in the world's largest vacuum chamber to simulate spaceflight as well as being subjected to acoustic tests to simulate the intense vibrations Orion will endure when launched on the world's largest rocket, NASA's Space Launch Systems.

Second module getting ready

Meanwhile technicians in Bremen are not resting as work on the second European Service Module is already well under way. The structure is complete and over 11 km of cables are being meticulously placed in preparation for the computers and equipment that will keep astronauts alive and well for the second Orion mission called Exploration Mission-2.

Orion European Service Module-2 wiring. Credit: ESA–A. Conigli

Explore further: The road to Orion's launch

Related Stories

The road to Orion's launch

November 10, 2017

NASA's Orion spacecraft aims to send humans further into space than ever before, and ESA's European Service Module will provide the essentials for keeping the astronauts alive and on course.

Orion frame work

June 15, 2017

Set to be shipped to the USA around the New Year, ESA's contribution to NASA's Orion spacecraft is taking shape at Airbus in Bremen, Germany. This is no test article: the service module pictured here will fly into space by ...

Recommended for you

A new neptune-size exoplanet

December 16, 2018

The remarkable exoplanet discoveries made by the Kepler and K2 missions have enabled astronomers to begin to piece together the history of the Earth and to understand how and why it differs from its diverse exoplanetary cousins. ...

Mars InSight lander seen in first images from space

December 14, 2018

On Nov. 26, NASA's InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight's exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful ...

Video: Enjoying the Geminids from above and below

December 14, 2018

On the night of December 13, into the morning of December 14, 2018, tune into the night sky for a dazzling display of fireballs. Thanks to the International Space Station, this sky show – the Geminids meteor shower—will ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2018
The difference between BFR and orion: orion is a military vehicle built by a military agency to milspec requirements, intended to be used for military missions.

This is the reason for the cost, the schedule, the complexity, and the international involvement.

Recon, establishing bridgeheads, outpost support... these are military ops, some of the many that this system will be used to perform.

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.