NASA engineers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are expected to integrate the crew module with the service module for the agency's Orion spacecraft in preparation for the vehicle's unmanned test flight mission to the lunar orbit, Artemis 1, in 2020, Spaceflight Now reported Monday.
“The work we have ongoing in the Operations and Checkout Building with our Artemis 1 vehicles, the next big milestone, which will happen some time toward the end of July, is we're going to mate the crew module to the service module,“ said Mark Kirasich, NASA's Orion program manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“We'll have one integrated stack, and we'll do a series of tests to that vehicle to make sure the crew module and service module function well together,“ he added.
Upon the completion of tests, Kirasich said the agency will fly the spacecraft to Sandusky, Ohio, sometime in September for the environmental testing phase. Lockheed Martin and NASA demonstrated on July 2 the capability of Orion's launch abort system as part of the second test flight conducted at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Lockheed serves as the prime contractor for the Orion program, while Airbus' defense and space business built the spacecraft's service module. The report said NASA expects to conduct the crewed mission ““ Artemis 2 ““ as early as 2022 with plans to send astronauts to the moon by 2024.