In the Spotlight

Inside the European Service Module

In the Spotlight

Inside the European Service Module

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    The people behind the success of the Artemis I mission

    The Artemis mission I concluded successfully with the splashdown of the Orion capsule.

    Everybody at Thales Alenia Space can now celebrate this huge achievement, taking a well-deserved rest before moving on to the next challenge.

    Many years after our last trip to the Moon, humanity is now ready to go back. This time, within the next ten years or so, we aim to build a real Lunar ecosystem that will support a permanent presence on the surface of our moon.

    It’s been a mission full of memorable moments, tests and data, leading up to the Artemis II mission that will bring astronauts close to the Moon, almost touching it. And then comes Artemis III and the return of humans to the Moon.

    Concept Art

    Thales Alenia Space is deeply involved in this mission. Starting in 2015, our Turin-based engineers and technicians began to work on the backbone of Orion and the subsystems that are an essential part of the European Service Module, ensuring a safe crew environment throughout the mission.

    It’s been a long and winding road, but Thales Alenia Space’s people have risen to the challenge with pride.

    The Artemis I mission aims to prove the robustness of the structure, its ability to protect against meteoroids and debris, and also to show that the radiators, thermal system and consumable storage system operate correctly.

    After 25 days in space of tests and verifications, an hour before the capsule separated from the service module the cabin pressure was checked to prevent an unnecessary activation of the negative pressure relief valves. This operation, led by Thales Alenia Space, was essential to provide the go-ahead for the next – crewed! – mission.

    No manned system before Orion has ever gone this further from the Earth. Travelling beyond the Moon, it experienced a deep space environment for almost a month, under extreme radiation conditions. Artemis I was a critical mission, since it’s the only way to test the effects of radiation and the deep space environment, not only for humans but also on all subsystems and components in the capsule and service module. Our top priority is of course to protect the astronauts’ health and safety.

    To better understand the meaning of this mission and its successors, we asked Annamaria, Fabio, Federica and Dario, representing more than 150 Thales Alenia Space professionals involved in the program, to share their experiences.

    Representatives of the team

    Annamaria Piras, Head of Low Earth Orbit Programs

    The Artemis I mission is a unique success that marks a new era for space exploration, allowing humanity to return to the Moon and go beyond it, where no human has gone before.

    To be part of it is a great honor, with strong emotions that touch us all. The return to the Moon now has a completely different meaning from the landing in 1969. We no longer plan just one-week missions, but are now building the capability, step by step, to live in deep space, and even go to Mars in the upcoming decades.

    Fabio Burzagli, Project Design Authority for TCS, CSS and Structure subsystems.

    This mission is living proof that the 4P rule works: Practice, Patience, Perseverance and Passion.

    Growing up with “Space: 1999” was inspirational and in hindsight a nice premonition. To be part of the project that will shape the “Artemis Generation” and give us a “lunar habitat” is really science fiction become science reality. It’s enthralling and fascinating.

    Federica Negri, TCS & CSS Technical Procurement Manager

    The success of this mission shows once again that it is possible for international teams to cooperate to meet huge technological challenges, for the benefit of all.

    It’s a way to push ourselves beyond the limits of human outposts and it’s a chance to restore a common consciousness of our place in the universe, just like the “Blue Marble” picture of the Earth did*. But, let’s face it, going back to the Moon is just cool.

    Dario Saia, European Service Module Program Manager

    I was a boy looking at images of Apollo 11, now I’m part of this project aiming to bring humans back to the Moon. Sometimes, I still can’t believe I’m part of such a great mission.

    To reach our goal, teamwork is essential and probably the most important challenge. Building strong relationships, both internally and externally, is key, so we can work together to tackle the difficulties and critical phases that are a recurring part of such a complex project. In the end, to do a good job, we need to enjoy our time working on this project.

    Our task for several years has been to deliver a best-in-class product. It’s a matter of pride. A sense of pride that we share within the team and also with friends who for various reasons are no longer with us.

    *A celebrated picture of the Earth taken by the Apollo 17 crew in 1972.