U.S., Europeans uniting to send space capsule to moon
The new Orion crew capsule is catapulted into the air on Thursday, May 6, 2010 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., during a test of Orion's launch-abort system. (AP / Craig Fritz)
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 1:58PM EST
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The U.S. space agency is teaming up with the European Space Agency to get astronauts beyond Earth's orbit.
Officials said Wednesday that Europe will provide the propulsion and power compartment for NASA's new Orion crew capsule. This so-called service module will be first used on 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.
NASA wants to ultimately use Orion spacecraft to carry astronauts to asteroids and Mars. Gerstenmaier says international co-operation will be crucial for such endeavours. He says the International Space Station helped build the foundation.