Aerospace and defence company Airbus has secured a contract to build the third European Service Module (ESM) for the Orion spacecraft.

The third European Service Module (Artemis III Mission) will be used to fly astronauts to the Moon in space in 2024.

Awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA), the €250m contract ensures the continuity in Nasa’s Artemis programme.

Airbus Space Exploration head Andreas Hammer said: “Our know-how and expertise will enable us to continue to facilitate future Moon missions through international partnerships.

“By working together with our customers ESA and Nasa, as well as our industrial partner Lockheed Martin, we now have a reliable planning basis for the first three lunar missions. This contract is an endorsement of the joint approach combining the best of European and American space technologies.”

Next year, ESA will launch the first non-crewed Orion test flight with a European Service Module (Artemis I), which is part of Artemis II.

The ESM will provide propulsion, power, air and water for the astronauts. It will also regulate thermal control while docked to the crew module.

ESA human and robotic exploration director David Parker said: “By entering this agreement, we are again demonstrating that Europe is a strong and reliable partner in Artemis.

“The European Service Module represents a crucial contribution to this, allowing scientific research, development of key technologies and international cooperation – inspiring missions that expand humankind’s presence beyond low-Earth orbit.”

In March, Nasa’s Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission entered the final phase of preparation prior to its launch.