European Space Agency set to supply service module for Orion

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has reached an agreement with NASA to supply a service module to the Orion spacecraft’s Exploration Mission-1 in 2017.

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) will serve as an exploration vessel that will carry the crew to space, provide an emergency abort capability, sustain the crew and provide safe re-entry.

In a statement, ESA said Orion will carry astronauts further into space than before using a module based on Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) technology.

ATVs have been resupplying the International Space Station since 2008. The fourth in the series, ATV Albert Einstein, is being readied for launch next year from Kourou, French Guiana.

The ATV-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion’s crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power, thermal control, as well as supplying water and gas to the astronauts in the habitable module.

According to NASA, yesterday’s agreement primarily maps out a plan for ESA to fulfil its share of operational costs and additional supporting services for the International Space Station. ESA will do this by providing the service module.

Exploration Mission-1 in 2017 will be the first integrated flight test with both the Orion spacecraft and NASA’s new Space Launch System.

It will follow the upcoming Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014, in which an uncrewed Orion will launch from a Delta IV Heavy rocket and fly to an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth’s surface. The service module for the flight test is being built by Lockheed Martin.