Secured high atop the most powerful launch vehicle ever created, the Orion space capsule is the crowning glory of NASA's upcoming Artemis 1 mission.
NASA's Orion spacecraft will soon be whisked past Earth next week on the way to lunar orbit in only its second trip into space after a 2014 test flight aboard a ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket. This next-generation crew vehicle serves as not only a life-support environment during space journeys to and from our Big Blue Marble, but it will also haul scientific payloads to the moon and someday to Mars.
As part of the prelude to the historic unmanned Artemis 1 launch blasting off no sooner than Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, NASA has released another "Path to the Pad" video detailing more about the $20 billion Orion spacecraft and its subsystems, construction and capabilities.
Witnessing this incredible machine rolling out for fueling, final preparations, and stacking as teams at NASA's Kennedy Space Center outfit Orion for its Artemis 1 rendezvous with the moon amps up the excitement for the first launch attempt on Aug. 29.
Named after one of the largest constellations in the sky and built by Lockheed Martin and Airbus Defense and Space, Orion is made up of the emergency Launch Abort System, the crew module intended to house up to four astronauts with cargo, and the European-built service module (ESM).
This third component acts as the primary propulsion system for Orion and uses its main engine, eight auxiliary thrusters and 24 smaller thrusters for push, maneuvering, and positioning.
The Airbus-created ESM-2 will be part of the crewed Artemis II mission that will shuttle the first astronauts around the moon and back to Earth in 2024, if all goes according to plan. ESM-3, currently being completed in Airbus cleanrooms, will power the Artemis III mission for humankind's triumphant return to the lunar surface no sooner than 2025.
Above, also check out Boeing and NASA's new time-lapse video of last week's Crawler-transport trip for the towering Artemis 1 moon rocket on its super-slow journey from Florida's Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Vehicle Building out to Launch Complex 39B. It's a much quicker way to experience the mega-rocket's snail's pace stroll to the launch site!