The Airbus-built service module for NASA's uncrewed Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft has arrived at Kennedy Space Center to undergo a series of tests and integration work in preparation for the Exploration Mission-1 program.
NASA said Tuesday its engineers will assess the service module's elements, connect fluid lines for gases, and fuel and fasten electrical wirings together before mating the system with Orion.
Afterwards, the space agency plans to immerse the combined spacecraft in a thermal vacuum chamber based in the Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio to evaluate Orion's ability to operate in deep space.
The spacecraft will then be returned to Kennedy Space Center and integrated into the Space Launch System rocket to prepare for launch scheduled in June 2020.
The service module is designed to maneuver Orion throughout the EM-1 program, which aims to resume efforts in human exploration in deep space, as well as support missions to the Moon and Mars.
Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, said the arrival of the Airbus service module represents the extension of the agency’s collaboration with the European Space Agency to deep space human exploration projects.
Airbus helped ESA build and deliver the module under a $485.7M contract.