The fourth European Service Module structure to power astronauts on NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon is now complete. The structure is seen here at a Thales Alenia Space site in Turin, Italy.

The module is now on its way to Airbus’ clean rooms in Bremen, Germany where engineers will complete the integration and carry out final tests.

As the powerhouse for the Orion spacecraft, the European Service Module provides propulsion and the consumables astronauts need to stay alive.

Much like the load-bearing frame of a car, this structure forms the basis for all further assembly of the spacecraft, including 11 km of wiring, 33 engines, four tanks to hold over 8000 litres of fuel, water and air for astronauts and the seven-metre ‘x-wing’ solar arrays that provide enough electricity to power two households.

The fourth European Service Module is part of the Artemis IV mission that will begin delivering elements of the Gateway, the next human outpost located in lunar orbit.

This includes the International Habitat, or I-Hab, module, built by Thales Alenia on behalf of ESA. It is a pressurised module that will provide living quarters for astronauts visiting the Gateway and include multiple docking ports for berthing vehicles as well as well other modules.

What’s up with the first three European Service Modules?

The first European Service Module is connected with the Orion spacecraft and awaiting launch for Artemis I later this year. The second European Service Module has been formally transferred to NASA and is completing integration at the Operations and Checkout building at Kennedy Space Center. Meanwhile, the third European Service Module continues to be built up in Bremen.

With four European Service Modules already delivered and in production, ESA is ensuring NASA’s Artemis programme continues to develop a sustainable presence on and around the Moon in international partnership.

The countdown to the Moon starts in Europe with 16 companies in ten countries supplying the components that make up humankind’s next generation spacecraft for exploration. Follow the latest on Orion developments on the blog