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The Orion spacecraft, a giant ready for the unknown

The conquest of space is an adventure of humanity turned towards the unknown. Among the missions that embody this quest for exploration, the Artemis program, with the Orion spacecraft at the forefront, stands out for its ambition to return to the Moon and prepare the ground for manned missions to Mars.

Powered by the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) built for the occasion, Orion represents a cornerstone of NASA's strategy to establish a lasting presence in deep space. He aspires not only to discover new worlds, but also to expand the territory of human life.

Construction of the Orion ship

Construction of the Orion spacecraft, Credit NASA © 2024

Heir to the Apollo capsule, Orion takes space exploration to new horizons

Orion presents itself as the worthy successor to the Apollo capsule used during the eponymous program of 1969. This new vessel integrates highly more advanced technologies, including heat shields capable of withstanding extreme temperatures of 4,000 degrees as well as armoring systems. sophisticated against radiation. In addition, the ship can, on the one hand, operate autonomously , on the other hand deploy four solar panels which provide (almost) inexhaustible energy of 11 kilowatts - a revolution compared to Apollo's fuel cells.

Orion ship

With improved habitability for four astronauts (compared to 3 for Apollo) on 21-day missions, Orion paves the way for longer and more complex expeditions. By integrating these technological advances, Orion aims to be a module that will forever leave its mark on the conquest of space.

Orion ship

From left to right, the Apollo 1969 capsule and the Orion 2022 spacecraft

This technological cocoon also redefines atmospheric re-entry thanks to a so-called rebound entry maneuver, making it possible to precisely locate its landing point. It thus offers a safer and smoother descent for astronauts, at a speed of 40,000 km/hour (all the same). A true technological masterpiece, the Orion service module is assembled from 20,000 parts with a diameter of approximately 5 meters and a length of 3.3 meters.

Orion ship

Orion, Credit NASA © 2024

Orion embodies a global project, a true symbol of international cooperation around a common quest

nasa esa jaxa csa

As the lead agency, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) oversees the entire Orion project, coordinating contributions from international partners and leading the design, test and integration aspects of the spacecraft. ESA (European Space Agency) plays a crucial role in the project by providing the European Service Module, a key part of the Orion spacecraft. This service module is notably responsible for providing the main and secondary propulsion necessary for orbital maneuvers, attitude control, and energy via its solar panels. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) supplies the HTV-X logistics module and is working on a habitation module for the Lunar Gateway. Finally, CSA (Canadian Space Agency) is developing the Canadarm3 robotic arm for the Gateway and contributing to advanced life support systems.

Companies such as Lockheed Martin, Airbus Defense and Space, and around 50 others private players also play important roles in Orion's development. Airbus was notably commissioned by ESA to develop and build the European Service Module, thus consolidating European expertise in space technology.

Artemis program
European Service Module (ESM), Credit NASA © 2024

Orion sets a new standard for future manned exploration missions. Much more than just a spacecraft, Orion represents a survival capsule, an advanced scientific laboratory and a platform for daring exploration, carrying humanity's aspirations to horizons once inaccessible. It thus symbolizes a new era, where humanity, driven by its dreams and its thirst for discovery, pushes back the boundaries of the known.

Orion Mu:n Series


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