Orion spacecraft, illustration

Orion spacecraft, illustration

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Credit: NASA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Orion spacecraft, exploded-view illustration. The components of this spacecraft include the European Service Module (ESM, cylindrical) which provides electricity, propulsion, air and water. The Crew Module (conical) on top of the ESM houses four astronauts and cargo. It is designed to re-enter Earth's atmosphere, protected by its heat shield. The fairing (nose cone) protects the spacecraft during launch, while the Launch Abort System (LAS, lower right) forms the tip of the launcher. It has rockets of its own that fire in an emergency. Like the fairing, it is discarded at altitude after launch. The first Orion crewed launches are scheduled for around 2021.

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