OSIRIS-REx Launches on Multi-Year Mission to Asteroid Bennu

Precisely on the opening of tonight’s 115-minute “launch window,” the Atlas V 411 took flight. Photo Credit: Michael Galindo/AmericaSpace

Just a half-hour before the Sun set over the Space Coast on Thursday, 8 September, United Launch Alliance (ULA) has successfully delivered NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft on its […]

OSIRIS-REx Stands Ready for Date With Asteroid Bennu (Part 2)

An artist’s rendering of OSIRIS-REx at asteroid 101955 Bennu. Its solar arrays will be configured in a “Y-wing” shape to avoid dust accumulation. Image Credit: NASA

Tomorrow evening, if all goes well, a spacecraft destined to visit, retrieve, and return samples from a near-pristine “carbonaceous” asteroid will roar aloft atop a unique “flying-sideways” rocket […]

OSIRIS-REx Stands Ready for Date With Asteroid Bennu (Part 1)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has completed assembly at Lockheed Martin Space Systems near Denver, Colo. Over the next several months engineers will put the spacecraft through a series of intense tests. The $800 million mission to retrieve samples from Astroid Bennu is scheduled to launch in September 2016. Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

Just two days […]

Nearly There: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Being Readied for Sept. 8 Launch

An artist’s rendering of OSIRIS-REx at asteroid 101955 Bennu. Image Credit: NASA

The last decade has proven to be watershed years for deep space exploration. While the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft proved a small lander could be set down upon a rocky comet, other missions including NASA’s Curiosity rover, Dawn, and New […]

Asteroid-Bound OSIRIS-REx Arrives at NASA Kennedy for September Launch

OSIRIS-REx uncrating at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA Kennedy. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

NASA’s first asteroid sampling spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, May 20. The spacecraft is set to undergo a series of tests and final preparations to ready it for a September launch to an […]

Asteroid Visitor, Asteroid Orbiter, Asteroid Lander: 20 Years Since the Launch of NEAR Shoemaker

Asteroid 433 Eros, visited by the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR)-Shoemaker during 1998-2001. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, today, on 17 February 1996, NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR)—a name later adjusted to honor the planetary scientist Gene Shoemaker—rocketed away from Launch Complex (LC)-17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a venerable Delta […]

Pluto's Large Nitrogen Ice 'Sea' Probably Formed from Giant Impact, Scientists Say

The vast ice plains of Sputnik Planum on Pluto. The basin, now filled with nitrogen ice, was probably created by a huge impact. Photo Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Instead of being little more than a frozen and unchanging rocky iceball, Pluto has been revealed to be a complex and dynamic little world, with mountains, valleys, vast […]

NASA Seeks American Industry Ideas on Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission Spacecraft Design

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission capturing an asteroid boulder before redirecting it to an astronaut-accessible orbit around Earth’s moon.Caption and Credits: NASA

NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) plans to send a robotic spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid to pluck a boulder off the surface and move it into a stable orbit […]

OSIRIS-REx Taking Shape, Engineers Explain Innovative Asteroid Sample Return Mechanism

Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx in the environs of Asteroid Bennu, sometime after 2018. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

While avid space watchers may thrill to missions such as Stardust (which returned a sample from a comet), Dawn (which visited an asteroid and dwarf planet), and Rosetta (which placed a lander upon a comet’s surface), […]

Spacecraft Assembly Begins for NASA's OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission

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

The first United States mission in history to launch a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid, retrieve samples, and return those samples back to Earth for study just passed a big milestone in its development this […]