CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency to get astronauts beyond Earth’s orbit.
Europe will provide the propulsion and power compartment for NASA’s new Orion crew capsule, officials said Wednesday. This so-called service module will be based on Europe’s supply ship used for the International Space Station.
Orion’s first trip is an unmanned mission in 2017. Any extra European parts will be incorporated in the first manned mission of Orion in 2021.
NASA’s human exploration chief, Bill Gerstenmaier, said both missions will be aimed at the vicinity of the moon. The exact details are being worked out; lunar fly-bys, rather than landings, are planned.