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In a Jan. 16, 2013 story, NASASpaceFlight.com suggests that the agreement by the European Space Agency to provide the service module for two upcoming flights of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle will lead to the inclusion of a European astronaut on the second flight, manifested to take four astronauts on a lunar orbital mission no later than 2021.
The notion of the first European to fly beyond low Earth orbit is illustrative of a now old reality of manned space flight, that it is an cooperative venture for the most part. Foreign astronauts have flow on the space shuttle for decades. The International Space Station started as a partnership between the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Japan. Later Russia was included in the project.
The European Space Agency is building the service module, which will provide power, propulsion, consumables, and avionics for the Orion based on its ATV cargo carrier, which has been delivering supplies to the ISS. This will constitute the first jointly built manned space craft.
Orion is manifested to be launched on an Atlas V in 2014. In 2017, an Orion with the ATV based service module will be launched on top of a Space Launch System heavy lift rocket in a loop around the moon before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. The 2021 mission, which will in some ways mimic the 1968 Apollo 8 mission, will also have a European service module. Thus far there are no further flights of the Orion planned because NASA’s space exploration road map is still a work in progress.