NASA, ESA Forge Deep Space Alliance With Orion Partnership
By Mark Carreau
Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Under the terms, NASA will furnish the Orion capsule, launch abort system, and adapters that protect the capsule’s heat shield, and merge the service module to the SLS as well as jettisonable fairings.
ESA will provide the actual service module structure holding the propulsion and solar power components as well as the life support needs of the Orion crews. The first service module will integrate spare NASA shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System components. The Europeans will also provide sustaining engineering for their hardware.
NASA has no plans to alter its $6.6 billion agreement with Lockheed Martin, the Orion/MPCV prime contractor, says Mark Geyer, NASA’s Orion project manager. Plans for a late 2014 unpiloted test flight of the Orion atop a Delta IV heavy will not be affected by the ESA agreement. That test will feature a high-speed re-entry of the capsule to test the heat shielding and verify other systems prior to the capsule’s planned critical design review.