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European Service Module

The Orion European Service Module is the spacecraft’s powerhouse, supplying it with electricity, propulsion, thermal control, air, and water in space.

Service Module Overview

For the first time, NASA will use a European-built system as a critical element to power and propel an American spacecraft.

The spacecraft’s service module is being provided by ESA (European Space Agency) and its partner Airbus Space, extending NASA’s international cooperation from the International Space Station into deep space exploration.

The service module is ESA’s contribution to NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will send astronauts to the Moon and beyond. The service module is the powerhouse of the spacecraft as it provides in-space maneuvering capability, power, and other commodities necessary for life support, including consumables for the astronauts, like water, oxygen and nitrogen.

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On April 29, 2019, the Artemis I Orion service module is moved to the assembly bay lift station inside the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida installation and fastening of systems in preparation for direct field acoustic testing.

The European-built Service Module by the Numbers

The Orion spacecraft is made of three primary elements – the launch abort system, the crew module, and the service module.

Four solar array wings provide power to the service module.

Number of European countries working to assemble the service module as part of an international agreement between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). 

Number of engines on the European Service Module.

Number of sensors used to collect data on Orion’s service module as it was shaken in the Mechanical Vibration Facility at NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility.

Total pounds of thrust provided by the service module’s main engine. It is also equipped to swivel from side to side as well as up and down.

Total number of solar cells found on the spacecraft’s solar arrays used to convert light into electricity.

The number of parts and components the service module is comprised of that must fit together perfectly and perform reliably.

An International Undertaking

European Service Modules for NASA’s Orion spacecraft are assembled in Bremen, Germany, while suppliers all over Europe and the United States deliver components that form the chassis and supply life-support and propulsion to the Orion capsule.

Companies from 11 countries have built spacecraft-specific parts for Orion or supplied their proven space-hardware to construct the spacecraft that will fly further than any other human-rated spacecraft.

The countries contributing to Orion’s European Service Module.

The prime contractor for the European Service Module is Airbus Space, a European multinational that has put its Bremen facility in charge of the service module program. As ESA’s direct interface, Airbus is responsible for the complete package, assembling the parts in its Bremen halls and verifying that the components work as expected. They are the centralized company that orders all parts for the European Service Module, keeps track of orders and ensures parts get shipped to the right place at the right time. The engines and electronics to drive the thrusters come from an Airbus subsidiary in Lampoldshausen, Germany, which also supplied the engines for ATV. The company Leoni, also based in Germany, is responsible for the network of cables for the module’s electronics – transmitting all the data from engine temperature to levels of oxygen in the tanks.

Service Module Fact Sheet

Learn more about Orion’s service module, the powerhouse of the spacecraft.

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