Workers installing the nozzle of the main engine for the European Service Module-2 that will power astronauts inside the Orion spacecraft around the Moon on the Artemis II mission.
The European Service Module has 33 engines of three different classes, all used to navigate, rotate and propel the Orion spacecraft to the Moon and back to Earth safely. Here technicians are installing the last touches to the largest, main engine, that previously flew to space on Space Shuttle Atlantis. The orbital maneuvering system engine nozzle and heat shield directs the thrust and protects the rest of the spacecraft from the heat of the propulsion exhaust. The red covers are removed before flight and are in place for protection while working on the engines and the surrounding hardware.
The Artemis II spacecraft is inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, this picture was taken on 14 January 2023.
The main elements of the engine were installed before at the European Service Modules’ Airbus integration hall in Bremen, Germany, but the engine nozzle stayed in the United States waiting for its installation on European Service Module-2 last month. This makes the transport across the Atlantic Ocean easier, likewise, the service module’s solar array wings are also transported separately.
Throughout the year technicians will continue to finalise the Orion spacecraft, test and qualify the workmanship and the second European Service Module will be officially handed over to NASA in 2023. From there the Artemis II Orion spacecraft will be transferred to NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems teams to prepare for its launch to the Moon next year.
The astronauts that will take a ride to the Moon and back are still to be announced, but four people will be onboard for the two-week lunar trip.