February 21, 2019 – The first European Service Module for the Orion spaceship is still being intensively tested by NASA at the Kennedy Space Center, but work on the second flight model is in full swing. ArianeGroup in Bremen has already delivered the first two of a total of four tanks for the second Orion model. On this mission, astronauts will for the first time travel to the moon and back on board Orion.
The tanks each have a capacity of around 2,000 liters and can hold a total of more than eight tons of propellant. The propulsion system is a two-fuel propulsion system with mixed nitrogen oxides (MON) and monomethyl hydrazine (MMH). During the mission, the tanks will have to feed a total of 33 engines, the main engine from the US Space Shuttle, eight auxiliary engines and 24 attitude control engines. They are part of the propulsion subsystem.
“We are very proud to be able to contribute to this unique mission with our tanks and are working hard on the two remaining tanks,” said Andreas Juhls,Project Manager Orion Fuel Tanks at ArianeGroup, on the occasion of the delivery.
The fuel tanks are made of titanium and are equipped with internal components that reduce fuel sloshing and ensure repeated engine ignitions in weightlessness. They are manufactured and welded in a very complex process. After being handed over to Airbus, the next step is to glue hundreds of small heating elements onto the tanks. These ensure the correct ambient temperature in space.