Space

Orion propellant tank assembled

Busy days in the cleanroom of Airbus and ArianeGroup in Bremen: What was long prepared now took place: integration of the propellant tank for the spaceship Orion, or to be precise, the integration in the European Service Module.

 

The tanks will contain ieach about 2.000 liters of propellant. They found part of the propulsion subsystem together with 33 engines, pipelines, sensors and several electronic boxes.

 

During the development of the service module, Airbus engineers had to overcome difficult space and mass challenges. For this reason, the space for the tanks is very narrow, so that no further work can be carried out at the points after installation. Before installation, the tanks had to be equipped with a very flat heating system (heat pipes). This ensures that the tanks have the desired temperature environment even under the extreme conditions in space.

 

In addition, the corresponding thermostats must be installed during tank installation - with these regulators the tank would not have fit through the intended opening. The tank had to be turned several times after insertion to complete this task.

 

Bas Theelen, Orion Programme Manager: "Tank installation was a very important milestone for the Orion team. The colleagues from the integration team have done an outstanding job. The complex preparations and the installation are not trivial, but everything was mastered with flying colours I would like to thank the whole team for their tireless efforts and great work."

 

Following the installation of the tanks, important tests are started before the service module will be delivered to NASA in the summer. The first launch to the moon and back to Earth - uncrewed - is planned for end 2019 or beginning 2020.