(AGI) Turin, Nov 9 - Thales Alenia Space, a joint venturebetween Thales (67 percent) and Finmeccanica (33 percent),announced on Monday that its structural test model for theOrion capsule's Service Module has arrived at NASA. The Orionspacecraft is intended to carry four or more astronauts intoouter space. The Structural Test Article (STA) is an exactreplica of the Orion Service Module's planned structure for themission in 2018. After an initial series of structural tests inThales Alenia Space's establishment in Turin, the STA wastransported via plane from Turin's Caselle airport to NASA'stest centre in Plum Brook, Ohio, where testing will continue toverify the suitability of the Service Module's structuralplans. Lockheed Martin Space System is NASA's prime contractordeveloping and constructing the Orion space capsule, whileAirbus Defence and Space is developing and building theEuropean Service Module (ESM) for the Orion spacecraft as theprime contractor for the European Space Agency (ESA). The OrionService Module, contracted by the ESA, will provide the U.S.capsule with propulsion, power, thermal control, and key partsof its life support system. "The delivery of the first testmodel of the Orion spacecraft's European Service Module is atangible sign of our continuity as leaders in the fields ofdeveloping and constructing logistic support systems for theSpace Station and in space exploration," said Luigi MariaQuaglino, Thales Alenia Space's Senior Vice President forExploration and Science. The joint venture recently signed acontract with Airbus Defence and Space to develop and producethe Orion's thermomechanical systems including its structure,protective layer against micrometeorites, thermal control,stowage, and water and gas distribution. The spacecraft isintended to carry astronauts past Earth's orbit towardsmultiple destinations such as the Moon, asteroids, and DeepSpace. The Orion's first mission, "Exploration Mission 1",which Europe will take part in, is scheduled for 2018: thespacecraft will circumnavigate the Moon and then return toEarth. The unmanned voyage will test the performance of theOrion before it is used for manned missions and NASA's newlaunch system. The manned "Exploration Mission 2" is scheduledfor around 2021.. .