NASA AC­CEPTS DE­LIV­ERY OF EURO­PEAN POW­ER­HOUSE FOR MOONSHIP

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NASA has ac­cepted de­liv­ery of a key Euro­pean part needed to power the world’s nextgen­er­a­tion moonship.

U.S. and Euro­pean lead­ers gath­ered at Kennedy Space Cen­ter on Fri­day to mark the oc­ca­sion.

The newly ar­rived pow­er­house, or ser­vice mod­ule, will pro­pel NASA’s Orion cap­sule to the moon dur­ing a test flight with­out pas­sen­gers planned for 2020. A mega rocket un­der de­vel­op­ment by NASA, known as SLS for Space Launch Sys­tem, will launch the combo.

The Euro­pean com­po­nent “al­lows us to take peo­ple farther into space than we’ve ever gone be­fore, so it is a re­ally big event for all of the Orion pro­gram,” said NASA’s Orion pro­gram man­ager Mark Ki­ra­sich.

Orion and the at­tached ser­vice mod­ule are meant to fly near the moon, but not land. Fu­ture mis­sions will carry as­tro­nauts, with the goal of build­ing an out­post just be­yond the moon that could en­able lu­nar land­ings and Mars ex­pe­di­tions.

The Euro­pean Space Agency’s direc­tor gen­eral, Jan Worner, stressed to the crowd, “We will not go back to the moon, we will go for­ward to the moon.” That’s be­cause it will be in “a to­tally dif­fer­ent way” in­volv­ing co­op­er­a­tion rather than com­pe­ti­tion, as was the case dur­ing NASA’s Apollo moon-land­ing pro­gram of the 1960s and 1970s.

On its only space­flight to date, the Orion cap­sule soared more than 3,600 miles (5,800 kilo­me­ters) above Earth in 2014. The se­cond, con­sid­er­ably more dis­tant demo will come in 2020 with the Orion and ser­vice mod­ule; that will mark the SLS’ launch de­but. This mis­sion has been re­peat­edly de­layed.

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