NASA’s Artemis 1 Orion Spacecraft Gets its Wings

Teams have successfully installed the Artemis 1 Orion crew spacecraft's four solar arrays.
Image credit: NASA/Radislav Sinyak

The Orion spacecraft that will be launched on the maiden mission of NASA’s Artemis program is a step closer to completion with the installation of its solar wings.

Teams from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), Lockheed Martin, and Airbus have completed the installation of four solar wings that will power the spacecraft’s service module.

During the installation inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, each of the four solar arrays was first attached to the Vertical Integration Rig. The arrays were then extended and inspected before being installed onto the ESA-built European Service Module.

Each of the Orion spacecraft’s four solar arrays spans approximately 19 meters and produces 11 kilowatts of power, enough to power two three-bedroom homes.

The four solar arrays are held in a closed position by a cable. Shortly after the Orion spacecraft reaches orbit, “thermal knives” will cut through the cables and the arrays will unfurl.

The next stage of the construction will see the installation of the spacecraft’s forward bay cover, which protects the upper part of Orion, including its parachutes, and the adapter jettison fairings, which enclose the service module.

The Orion spacecraft will then be integrated with its launch abort system before finally being mated to the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Artemis 1 is the first in a series of progressively more complex missions that will conclude with the first woman and next man touching down on the surface of the Moon by 2024.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.