Engine of Atlantis




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The second European Service Module that will power the Orion spacecraft on a crewed flyby of the Moon is fitted with a special engine at Airbus facilities in Germany.

This engine belonged to Space Shuttle Atlantis, and is one of five refurbished engines to be paired with the first five European Service Modules. Technicians carefully install the engine in Airbus’ cleanroom.

ESM is the powerhouse of NASA’s Orion spacecraft. It will provide critical functions such as the propulsion system to get astronauts to the Moon, and the consumables astronauts need to stay alive.

ESM-2 will fuel the crewed Orion spacecraft during a flyby of the Moon for Artemis 2 and is currently undergoing integration and other testing in Europe before it is delivered to NASA this summer.

Meanwhile in the United States, the first European Service Module is making its way to the launch pad as part of the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 mission test flight later this year. Next stop is fuelling, due to take place next week.

ESM is ESA’s contribution to NASA’s Artemis programme and includes involvement from 10 European nations.

ESA recently signed a contract with Airbus for the construction of three more European Service Modules (ESM) for Orion. These modules will be used for the Artemis IV to VI missions. The first two Modules in the contract are part of Europe’s contribution to the international lunar Gateway – a new space station around the Moon. 



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