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ESA Work on Orion Propulsion System Delayed Six Months

Nico Dettman, head of ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle program said: “We need more time to look at options and ensure we make the right design decisions at this stage.” Credit: NASA photo

PARIS — The European Space Agency (ESA) on Nov. 22 announced that its work on the propulsion module for NASA’s Orion crew-transport vehicle has been slowed by a further six months as it considers design tradeoffs.

As a result, ESA said, the preliminary design review for the Orion propulsion system will not be completed until May 2014. “The overall effect on the project’s schedule is still under investigation,” ESA said. The first flight with the ESA-produced propulsion module for Orion had been scheduled for 2017.

Nico Dettman, head of ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle program — the space station cargo carrier from which ESA is borrowing much Orion propulsion module technology — said in a statement: “We need more time to look at options and ensure we make the right design decisions at this stage.”

 

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Article Comments

The latest info from NASA is that the interim version of the SLS to first launch in 2017 will have a 90+ metric ton (mT) payload capacity, not the 70 mT earlier cited by NASA. This is important because this is in the range to allow a manned landing mission to the Moon.
This will require an Apollo or smaller lander, not the 45 mT Altair lander of the Constellation program. It will also require a highly weight optimized service module, not one based on the ATV. If instead the service module is based on the highly weight efficient hypergolic Ariane 5 second stage which using the Aestus engine is also highly Isp efficient, then the mission can be done within the 90 mT payload capacity of the first launch of the SLS in 2017.

Bob Clark

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