@universetoday tweeted this image last week from NASA showing the first Orion test flight model:

The image shows a test model of the Orion capsule that will hold astronauts on missions to the Moon and beyond. Some followers asked if this image shows ESA’s ATV-derived service module that will propel the astronauts to their destination and back while keeping them warm and providing oxygen and other necessities for human life. The answer is no as ESA’s service module is not needed for its first test flight.

Fairing integration at Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA

Fairing integration at Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA

NASA is planning the first test flight this year to verify the habitable module can withstand reentry into Earth’s atmosphere amongst other tests. The service module is not a part of this flight as the Delta IV rocket used to launch this test model will propel it into an elliptical orbit, sending the crew module up to fall back to Earth under its own accord.

During its brief time in space all propulsive needs of this test model will be provided either by the Delta IV upper stage or by the habitable module itself. It will not need to supply life-support– the test flight is unmanned. A working service module is not required for this test and ESA was never asked to deliver a model.

Instead NASA contractor Lockheed Martin built an adapter derived from the structural design of the service module to attach the Orion test model to its launcher.