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Airbus Begins Assembly of Orion Module for Deep Space Missions

May 25, 2016 01:51 AM EDT
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Airbus and ESA have started the assembly of the Orion spacecraft in Germany. The process is expected to be completed in 2017 in preparation for Orion's maiden flight in 2018.
(Photo : Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

NASA's mission to reach deep space calls for partnerships with the largest plane manufacturers in the world including Boeing, Airbus, and Lockheed Martin.

NASA tapped Airbus Defence and Space to Develop the Orion Spacecraft which will have the capability to transport human crew in deep space 'farther than they've ever gone before'. This week, the team of engineers began assembling the spacecraft to prepare it for its maiden mission in 2018.

In 2014, Airbus was tapped by NASA to build the European Service Module (ESM), a part of Orion Spacecraft which will take astronauts beyond familiar territory. Today, the Airbus team in Airbus Defence and Space's site at Bremen, Germany, is officially assembling the parts of the Orion Spacecraft.

"With the Orion Service Module, we are part of a historic space mission," said Francois Auque, Head of Space Systems in an interview with Space Daily. "We will make sure this mission is a success, working hand in hand with our customers ESA and NASA and our industrial partner Lockheed Martin Space Systems."

Orion is being built in Germany starting with the 'back-end' or rear of the spacecraft. NASA considers The Orion as one of their next generation spacecraft because it will target deep space where no man has reached before.

Some parts of the Orion already passed rigorous testing like the pressurized capsule which will house the crew inside the spacecraft. The developers are now moving to assemble the whole thing into one piece.

"What you see at the moment is just the primary structure, but over the coming months the empty space within it will be packed," said Philippe Deloo, ESA Supervisor of the project, in an interview with BBC.

The assembly team added that more parts are needed to be installed to complete the project including the propulsion system, the power system, the thermal system and the storage for consumables. According to BBC, this is the first time NASA went overseas to develop its spacecraft.

Airbus recognizes the difficulty and the pressure in creating NASA's Orion Spacecraft which assembly should be finished by 2017. Airbus officials say although the task is daunting, they are comfortable with the speed of the assembly process.


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