The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of USA, has teamed up with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the Orion program. NASA has planned for an expedition in space and NASA’s, for the ‘Orion Program’ is to get help from European Space Agency. According to the news, a very important part of the spacecraft is to be built by ESA. NASA has planned to send a spacecraft carrying astronauts to the asteroid belt and Mars. The Orion capsule designed to be an enlarged and advanced version of the former Apollo Command/ service Module and, just like the Command Module; it needs a service module in order to function for an extended period of time. The service module, according to well known sources, is to be built by ESA. These modules will use technology from the ESA’s ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) which presently provides supplies the International Space Station (ISS). The service module will be designed to provide propulsion, power and life support to the Orion Module. The module will be a solar powered ATV. The reliability and efficiency of these ATV’s can be estimated by the fact that the former ATV’s built by ESA has already ferried three un-crewed cargo missions to and fro of ISS since 2008. Taking into account ESA’s achievement related to space NASA is to get help from European Space Agency, for its upcoming ‘Orion’ program. The Orion test missions go as follows:
1. The Orion spacecraft is supposedly to have its first test flight in the year 2014. The test flight named ‘Exploration Flight Test (EFT – I)’ is to be an un-crewed high apogee trajectory test flight of the Orion Crew Module in Earth Orbit. It will fly 3,600 miles away and then return
2. NASA plans to move ahead by an ‘Exploration Mission I (EM – I)’ by sending an un-crewed Orion on a circumlunar trajectory by the year 2017.
3. By the year 2019 – 2021 NASA plans for Exploration Mission II (EM – II)’ to send Orion with a crew of four into Lunar elliptical orbit.
4. In the year 2022, NASA will announce the destination.
The NASA – ESA agreement was signed in December. On Wednesday, 17 January, NASA described about the ESA’s contribution in the Orion project. According to the agreement ESA will provide the design and the hardware for the Orion service module as part of its contribution to the International Space Station project. Though ESA will provide the service module, but its propulsion system will make use of engines left over from NASA’s space shuttle program. With this International (NASA – ESA) collaboration in which, NASA is to get help from European Space Agency, for its upcoming ‘Orion’ program humans are surely ready to take a ‘Small step for man’ further into the Space exploration.