The Orion European Service Module (ESM) Propulsion Qualification Module (PQM) is in the opening phases of testing – including hot firings – at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. Bolted to a test stand, the PQM is being taken through a series of test campaigns by a team of personnel from prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space, the European Space Agency (ESA), and NASA.
After initial propellant loading and characterization of subsystem behavior, hot-fire testing of the thrusters and engines to help qualify the propulsion subsystem of the ESM has just started.
“The number one purpose of this test activity is to qualify the propulsion subsystem,” Steve Barsi said in an interview with NASASpaceflight.com. Barsi is the ESM Propulsion Subsystem Manager in NASA’s Orion Program.
“This is one of the only subsystem verification activities that we have on the books. Normally you do testing at engine level or subassembly level, but the purpose of this test is really to bring everything together and try to test it in an integrated manner.
“[The ESM] engines have been tested at the thruster or engine level, but this is the first time where we’re bringing them all together and ...