A manned return to the moon lurks near Europe too |  to know

A manned return to the moon lurks near Europe too | to know

NASA is preparing for the first test flight of the Artemis program, or the return of manned people to the moon, 50 years after the Apollo flights. Europe also takes part in this, in the form of a service unit.

ESA has built the Service Module (ESM) with Airbus for the US Orion spacecraft, which is intended to transport astronauts to and from the moon. The European unit provides air, electricity, temperature control and propulsion to the capsule. Each service unit contains about 20,000 pieces, about 12 kilometers of cable and weighs about 15 tons, according to the European Space Agency.

The diameter and height of the cylindrical ESM is 4 meters. It has four solar panels extending over 19 meters to generate enough power to power two families. The service module carries 8.6 tons of fuel to power Orion’s main engine and 32 smaller guidance rockets that keep the spacecraft on course during its round trip.

The service module lasts almost the entire flight. They are repelled just before returning to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere in a controlled manner.

Belgium was also involved in the development and construction, notably of the soil testing infrastructure, tank separator wall and pressure regulating elements. Participating companies are in particular Sonaca, Celestia Antwerp and Thales Alenia Space Belgium. The first ESM was called Bremen.

Wet Rehearsal

Meanwhile, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA is preparing for what’s called a “wet clothes rehearsal,” one of the last tests to refuel the 100-meter-high SLS rocket, which is intended to propel Orion to the moon. The launcher is ready in the meantime on the 39B launcher. If the test is successful, NASA will set an official launch date for Artemis-1.

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On that first mission to the Moon, the unmanned Orion built by Lockheed Martin will be.

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