A British engineer is making her dream come true by building a service module for the Orion ship

British engineer fulfills her dream by building a service module for the Orion ship

Britain's Sian Cleaver, who works as an engineer on the European Service Module project for the Orion spacecraft, February 9, 2023, Bremen, Germany.

Bremen – The Airbus company in Bremen, North Germany, is preparing service modules for the Orion spacecraft, with which mankind will return to the moon. British Sian Cleaver is also working on the project here as an engineer, who said in an interview with ČTK that she is thus fulfilling her life's dream, namely to personally be on manned space flights.

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Cleaver is the industrial manager for the European Service Module (ESM) project, which provides propulsion, electrical power and supplies to Orion. What exactly such a function entails, she explained with a laugh. “To be honest, sometimes the functions are difficult to understand even for us at Airbus,” she said. “The industrial manager does a lot of things. In this project, my role is to work with the industrial background, to ensure the equipment and supplies that come from the subcontractors. My main responsibility is that the supplies arrive on time. And if there are problems with the suppliers, we work together to solution,” she stated.

According to Cleaver, coordinating supply is sometimes difficult, as components come from different parts of Europe and also the United States. The service module, which takes 16 months to assemble in Bremen, consists of more than 20,000 parts. “We are often juggling a number of things at once, but when the deliveries arrive on time, it is satisfying,” she said.

She considers her entire participation in the ESM project to be a dream job, and the highlight for her is handing over the finished work. “When we delivered ESM-1 and ESM-2 to the United States, that was the highlight for me. All the previous difficult things, endless meetings, all that disappears. And then when you watch the launch of the rocket with the ship and the service module, it's something amazing ,” she said.

Cleaver immigrated to Bremen from Britain because she wanted to participate in manned flights. “The UK is not that active in manned flights, it is interested in other aspects of space projects such as robotics or Earth observation,” she said. When she got an offer from Airbus to work on ESM, she didn't hesitate at all. “I would go to any country for piloted flights. Piloted flights are my passion, so it was easy for me to move to Germany. I also had German at school, so Germany was quite a familiar environment for me,” she said.

< p>The working language at Airbus is English, but workers often speak their native languages, which is another thing Cleaver likes about her job. “I hear English, German, Spanish, Italian here all the time. I love it. It's amazing for me as a Brit, so I'm enjoying it here,” she said. Wide international cooperation also means that workers encounter other types of measuring systems. In Britain, although it adopted the metric system, imperial units are still rooted, while the United States uses its metric system. According to Cleaver, even that is not a problem.

“At Airbus, the metric system applies. But if we go a level higher, when we integrate ESM in the US with the Orion ship, then it is necessary to know the definitions of measurement systems. Personally, I have never she didn't see it as a problem, but sometimes I convert the metric and imperial systems in my head,” she said.

Cleaver knew from a young age that her work would involve space. “Practically from the beginning,” she said. “When I was four years old, I decided that I would be an astronaut. As a child, I was interested in mathematics and other exact sciences at school, and I studied astronomy. I then studied physics and astrophysics at university. I was always driven by desire to learn more about space. And now I think what could be better than what I'm doing. After all, we're sending people to the moon,” she said.

When she was young, she considered going to the United States because of the space program, but now she is glad that Europe also offers such opportunities. “I feel it is a great privilege that we Europeans are part of such projects,” she said.

While in the 1960s and 1970s the Apollo lunar program with the landing of the first men on the moon was an American project, the European Space Agency (ESA) also cooperates with the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the current Artemis lunar program. And ESA has become a key partner of NASA thanks to the service modules. Mission objectives also differ from the Apollo program.

“For me, Artemis is different. We're not going to the moon for a few days, this time we're coming back with the idea of ​​sustainability. We don't want to spend just a few days there. We're preparing the infrastructure, and when we have it, we can think about using lunar resources for space research and also for us on Earth,” Cleaver said. “This time the mission will be far-reaching. I proved for the first time that we can fly to the moon. There was also some science on the moon then. But now we are doing it the right way and better with higher added value,” she said. She sees the return to the moon as the next step to the flight to Mars.

Besides manned flights, space debris is also an interesting topic for Cleaver, where parts of rockets, satellites and other remnants of human space projects complicate the situation and safety in orbit around the earth. “We need to think better about what happens to the devices when they reach their end of life. Airbus has a number of projects to physically dispose of space debris. This makes cleanup in orbit possible,” she said.

On the subject of space debris, she also addresses the children for whom she wrote the story of Jenny the Junkineer, which can be translated as Jenny the Junkineer. Together with her friends in orbit, she will build the biggest, brightest and most fabulous space station, using only space junk. Cleaver wants to continue writing stories, she considers it a release from demanding work and above all a way to motivate new generations of space engineers. “Space is a magnet for children,” she added.