The space agency logos for the next spacecraft to head to the Moon have been added to Orion as part of the Artemis programme.
The new ESA logo and NASA’s ‘worm’ logo will be along for the ride on the first full mission of the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. Teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, have started to apply the historic logos on the Artemis I rocket and spacecraft.
ESA’s logo reflects our European nature and our pioneering activities in space. It incorporates the only element of ESA’s name common to all languages of Member States - the letter ‘e’ for European, which is symbol of cooperation and human dimension. Europe is represented by a circular ‘e’, superimposed on the globe that represents our planet Earth. The white dot represents a satellite in orbit. This symbol also incorporates the visionary side of space exploration and today is synonymous with a united Europe in space.
NASA’s ‘worm’ design was officially introduced in 1975 and was incorporated into many of the agency’s next-generation programmes. It was retired in 1992, but made a comeback in 2020 as a new, modern era of human spaceflight becomes reality.
Orion will display the logos on the first Artemis Orion spacecraft. The worm image, along with ESA’s logo, were cut into flight proof decals by the Launch Equipment Shop at the Kennedy Space Center and adhered to the underside of Orion’s crew module adapter.
ESA is providing the European Service Module for Orion, which is the powerhouse that fuels and propels the spacecraft. These bold images will be seen from cameras at the end of Orion’s solar arrays as the spacecraft travels toward the Moon.
“Adding a logo to a spacecraft is a very symbolic moment, and not unlike adding a signature to a work of art. All the teams that are working around the clock to make humankind’s next Moon mission possible can be proud,” says ESA European Service Module programme manager Philippe Deloo, “The placement is superb as the mission cameras will show the logos clearly as Orion flies around the Moon.”
The decals were applied to the spacecraft by ASRC’s Frank Pelkey, who previously painted the US flag on the spacecraft that flew on NASA’s Exploration Flight Test -1 mission. “I felt a great sense of pride when painting the US flag on Orion’s first flight,” said Frank. “It was that same feeling of gratitude to be selected to apply the NASA and ESA logos to the vehicle for the first Artemis mission.”
Early next year NASA’s traditional ‘meatball’ logo and an ESA logo will be shown on the spacecraft rocket fairings that will be visible from the launch pad when the SLS rocket leaves on its first flight in 2021. Shortly after launch from Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, the boosters will separate ; the Orion spacecraft, powered by its European Service Module, will be injected towards the Lunar domain by the SLS upper stage and come back to Earth after an orbital flight around the Moon.
Artemis II in 2023 will be the first flight test with a crew. In 2024, the first woman and next man will fly to surface of the Moon on the Artemis III mission, and begin the establishment of sustainable exploration by the end of the decade.