Thursday, November 29, 2012

ESA And Orion

NASA's next manned spaceship will be Orion, a capsule designed to carry astronauts into deep space.  It will not be a wholly American project, however.  An agreement has been reached for the European Space Agency to build Orion's service module.  That contains the guts of the spacecraft-- propulsion, power, etc.  ESA will build the module to NASA's standards and specifications.

It's an interesting decision.  ESA has yet to be involved in building manned spacecraft, and now it's to deliver a critical part of the ship that will carry America back into space.  There's also a political angle.  Thousands of American space workers lost their jobs when the space shuttle program ended, yet a good chunk of the next American spaceship program will now go to Europeans.  Congress may grumble about that.

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