November 29, 2017 – Propulsion is one of the key functionalities of Orion’s European service module (ESM). Thirty-three engines will ensure Orion’s safe travel to the moon and back to earth. To operate this complex propulsion system smoothly the Propulsion Drive Electronics (PDE) plays a vital role.
The PDE has been designed and built by the Avionics Engineering and Design department of Airbus DS in Bremen and was recently delivered to Airbus Defence and Space, the prime contractor for the European Service Module. Project manager Felix Rettig was extremely happy about the delivery.
“Our team worked so hard throughout the past years and now it is a great moment to see our electronics boxes ready for integration in a spaceship that will travel to the moon. A very big thank you goes to the whole team.”
“The PDE is a central element of the propulsion system,” said Rettig. “The avionics boxes precisely control all 33 thrusters and acquire measurement data for more than one hundred pressure and temperature sensor signals.”
Orion ESM chief engineer Matthias Gronowski was delighted to see the delivery as well: “It is great to see more and more parts coming into our clean room for assembly, integration and test. I would like to thank the electronic team for this remarkable success. I know this development was hard work but finally you made it and you delivered this important piece of hardware and software!”
Each Service Module will be equipped by two PDE boxes for required redundancy and failure tolerance. They will be connected to the Vehicle Management Controller located in the Orion crew capsule and form part of the whole propulsion system together with the engines, tanks, pipelines and sensors.
The PDE’s software has been developed to the highest level of ESA and NASA standards, with the implementation of a Category A firmware to ensure extreme failure tolerance.