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Nov 9, 2015

European Service Module (ESM) for Orion Capsule in Production

Airbus Defense and Space (DS) is building the new service module (ESM) for NASA (2015). The structural test version is to be delivered in this month. It looks very much the same as the 1960's version SM which was described in more detail in this article. We all remember the Apollo 13 mishap so lets hope they get everything right with all the numerous pressurized tanks.

The European Service Module made by Airbus DS

The ESM will provide propulsion, power and thermal control to the Orion space vehicle, and will also supply crew members with water and oxygen during missions to the Moon, asteroids and later, eventually, to Mars.

The structural test article is an exact copy of the actual flight model (to be built later), only without the functionality. It will determine whether the structural and weight specifications have been met, and whether the module lives up to NASA’s crew safety requirements. Testing will take place in Sandusky in the U.S. state of Ohio, home to NASA’s Plum Brook Station test centre.

2018 is the launch year for the first Orion mission – which will be uncrewed and powered by the European Service Module built by Airbus Defense and Space. The service module fulfils the role of a power plant. It drives the capsule and provides fuel and energy. It is also equipped with oxygen tanks to supply the crew. During the mission, it remains permanently attached to the capsule, detaching only shortly before the spacecraft re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere.

Here are some pictures of the European Service Module (ESM) made by Airbus DS:

The ESM contains 4 four large titanium tanks for the module that will be delivered for initial testing. The tanks are the first hardware to be supplied for the Orion space vehicle. Each tank is 2.67 metres high with a diameter of 1.15 metres. The tanks weight approximately 100 kilograms when empty and have a volume of 2,100 litres, giving a total payload capacity of almost nine tonnes of fuel (monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and mixed oxides of nitrogen (MON)). Most of the ESM’s total mass of just over 13 tonnes will consist of fuel.

The tanks will be first transported to Italy, where the structural test model will be assembled before being tested in the United States. The primary goal of these initial tests is to verify whether the structural components can withstand the enormous loads, especially during take-off. The next step is to build the engineering model that will be assembled and tested at Airbus Defence and Space in Bremen.

Airbus DS in Bremen, Germany.

This SM model will be used to test the inner workings of the tanks, which ensure a continuous, bubble-free flow of propellant to the motors in zero gravity. The actual flight tanks for the ESM – which will be used for the first time when the uncrewed Exploration Mission 1 launches in 2018 – will be built by Airbus Defence and Space in Bremen by mid-2016.

Airbus Defence and Space SAS, Elancourt Cedex, France

About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs more than 38,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €13 billion per year.
The Elancourt pole revolves mainly around the Center of Excellence Electronics, the high-tech sector of Airbus Defence and Space.

Airbus Defence and Space has the following European locations:
  • in Germany: Backnang, Berlin, Bremen, Immenstaad am Bodensee, Jena, Kiel, Koblenz, Cologne, Lampoldshausen, Manching, Ottobrunn, Potsdam, Rostock, Sulzbach (Taunus), Dare, Ulm and Unterschleißheim
  • in France Elancourt, Vélizy, Les Mureaux, Bordeaux and Toulouse and Kourou in French Guiana
  • in UK Newport, Portsmouth and Stevenage
  • in Spain: Getafe, Madrid-Barajas, Puerto de Santa Maria and Seville (San Pablo and Tablada)
  • in Italy: Rome and Potenza.

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