ESA to provide Orion service modules

OrionThe European Space Agency and NASA sign an agreement allowing ESA to provide service modules for the upcoming Orion manned spacecraft, with the first module flying as part of an unmanned test scheduled to take place in 2017. While the Orion command module capsules will be built for NASA by contractor Lockheed Martin, the service modules to which the capsules will be connected are to be provided by ESA and customized for each mission (which could include long-duration flights to the moon, asteroids, or Mars). The service module’s “X-wing solar panel” design is derived from ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ferries dispatched to the International Space Station; ESA’s commitment to Orion will replace its obligation to provide further unmanned freighters to the space station.