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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Europe Joins America in Next Step in Space

Artist impression of ESA ATV with NASA Orion (MPCV)
Europe is preparing plans to join the United States in building a manned spaceship that would take men and women to the moon and beyond. The project is supported by the UK and could see a British astronaut launched into deep space before the end of the decade, reports the Guardian.
The European Space Agency (ESA) have announced in Naples, Italy Nov. 21, 2012 that they will inform NASA they are ready to build an ATV derived Service Module for Orion, to be ready for the first launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) in 2017. The announcement came after the UK stepped up with additional funding, marking the country’s first real human BEO commitment.
Now, ATV – pending the expected official NASA acceptance – has a second life after it completes its role as a resupply vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS), incidentally linked to ESA’s involvement with the orbital outpost, notes NASA Spaceflight.
Orion's test flight is set for 2014
The Orion capsule – known officially as the Multiple Purpose Crew Vehicle – is designed to carry astronauts on missions of up to six months and could take men and women to the moon, or an asteroid or possibly even Mars.
The plan for Europe to join the US in building Orion spaceships stems from NASA's decision to privatize crew and cargo flights to the space station with Space X, Orbital Sciences Corporation and potentially Boeing, Sierra Nevada and perhaps others. The ESA ATV's will no longer have a role in ISS cargo by mid-decade.

The use the ESA ATV's avionics and propulsion for NASA Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle would be Europe's major contribution to the ISS from 2015 to 2020 under a barter agreement.

A glimpse into the future ...

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