The European Space Agency built much of the next manned spacecraft from NASA

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  • The service module is responsible for life support and propulsion
  • It will be based on the ESA space freighters
  • Its first launch is scheduled for 2017



As was expected after the meeting of relevant ministers from member countries of the European Space Agency, NASA and ESA have just confirmed that the ESA will be responsible for building the service module of the next manned spacecraft NASA.

The service module task will be to provide propulsion, electrical power and temperature control as well as water and air for four crew to Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle , the Vehicle for Multi-Purpose Crew, which is now the name official program manned capsule defunct Constellation program.

NASA is scheduled to launch a first test for the actual MPCV 2014, and if all goes well in this wants to do a release of the capsule and complete with its service unit, but even without crew, in 2017, so ESA has only until 2016 to deliver this completed and ready for operation.

Pulling the previous experience

Speaking of spaceships that would be a short time, but the ESA plays with the advantage that it will not start from scratch with the design of the service module, but is based on the Automated Transfer Vehicle, better known as ATV , the cargo space that used to send supplies to the International Space Station.

These have so far completed three missions without any problem, and there are still two to complete the program launch, one in February 2013 and another in 2014, which will allow the ESA more experience with them.

Thus the MPCV’s service module will be a sort of cropped version of the ATV , which will have removed the cargo hold, which measured about 2.7 meters long, about half an ATV, and retain its width of approximately 4.5 meters.

In addition, for several years and had conducted several studies if they ever were to design a manned version of the ATV, which some of the work is already advanced.

The new service module will incorporate a new solar arrays, deployable like the ATV, but more effective, and to propel the MPCV to your destination once placed in orbit will incorporate an engine of that used in NASA space shuttles.

Eight engines will be smaller, which already incorporate the ATV or a more advanced version of these, those in charge of bringing back to the capsule at the end of the mission.

The attitude control to control which part of it is oriented to the sun and thus maintain a reasonable temperature or to point to where you have to aim for his mission will be anything up to 20 smaller maneuvering engines distributed over its surface.

Settling accounts

The development cost of the first service module will be borne entirely by the European Space Agency, which will settle and the amounts that would have been payable for participation in the International Space Station during these years, costs in recent years been paying precisely the launch of the ATV towards this.

However, longer term, and if the program is not canceled Orion and all is well with him, building service modules also serve for ESA could ensure the presence of any of its astronauts on a mission beyond the orbit of the Earth, a kind of mission for many years we do not see.

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