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European Space Agency to Help NASA Take Humans Beyond Moon

  • Associated Press

FILE - Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams of NASA took this photograph on June 21, 2016, from the International Space Station, writing, "A spectacular rise of the full moon just before sunset while flying over western China."

The European Space Agency says it will contribute key components for a future NASA mission to take humans around the moon within the next few years.

Astronauts haven't gone beyond a low orbit around Earth since 1972, when NASA ended its Apollo program.

The European Space Agency and aerospace company Airbus have already delivered a propulsion and supply module for an unmanned flight of NASA's new Orion spacecraft next year.

The agency said Wednesday that it and Airbus have now agreed with NASA to build a module for a second, manned mission that will fly around the moon as early as 2021.

Orion is eventually intended to expand human exploration to deep-space destinations such as Mars or asteroids.

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