NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Passes Critical Milestone, Enters Next

Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx

Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard

NASA’s science mission to retrieve a sample from an ancient space rock has almost achieved its mission, said NASA in a latest statement.

The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has passed a critical milestone in its path and is set to enter the next phase, said NASA.

Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D) of the spacecraft occurs as it is shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the rocket.

“This is an exciting time for the OSIRIS-REx team,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-Rex at the University of Arizona, Tucson after 4 years of intense design efforts.

OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth, if successful.

The spacecraft is set to travel to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu and bring at least a 60-gram (2.1-ounce) sample back to Earth for study. OSIRIS-REx carries 5 instruments to study and evaluate the surface of Bennu.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in late 2016, will reach Bennu in 2018 and return to Earth in 2023.

“The spacecraft structure has been integrated with the propellant tank and propulsion system and is ready to begin system integration in the Lockheed Martin highbay,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

A NASA meeting on March 30 chaired by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate finalized the mission.

OSIRIS-REx complements NASA’s Asteroid Initiative, in which NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a robotic spacecraft mission that will capture a boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, will be undertaken.


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