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  • Satellite Evolution

Second Orion spacecraft put through its paces - first crewed Moon-mission gets closer

While Orion ESM-1 orbits the Moon to test its system during the Artemis I mission phase planned for launch in a few weeks, the second European Service Module (ESM-2) will undergo test campaigns on the crew module interfaces and overall system integrity for the first crewed Moon-mission planned for 2024.

The second Orion spaceship now nearly fully assembled and in the final stages of test, to be ready to return to the Moon

Lars Bauer, Lead System Engineer ESM-2, said: “Building a spaceship takes time and it's not easy! That's why it's always special when everything comes together and that's what we see here with the second Orion spaceship now nearly fully assembled and in the final stages of test, to be ready to return to the Moon.”


The tests include pressure regulation and thermal cycle tests. The pressure regulation test ensures that the valves are working correctly with the flight control software of the spaceship. The thermal test takes place in a special chamber to prove that Orion is able to work when exposed to the different temperatures it will experience in space.


The next step is an acoustic test, during which various loudspeakers are aimed at the module to expose the ESM to different sound pressure levels. Sensors will register the vibrations of the structure and components to make sure it survives the large vibrations at launch. The final step for Airbus will then be the installation of the solar panels on the service module by the end of 2023.


Airbus plays a very important role in the success of the Artemis missions, because the European Service Module (ESM), which Airbus is building on behalf of ESA as part of Europe's contributions to NASA, supplies the spacecraft with water, electricity and oxygen. The ESM also ensures propulsion and temperature regulation.

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