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posted by janrinok on Thursday September 08 2016, @08:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the bring-me-a-stick-of-rock dept.

Update: Launch successful.

NASA will launch the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft on Sept. 8. The spacecraft will attempt exploration and a sample return from the asteroid 101955 Bennu. It will arrive at Bennu in 2018 and map it before selecting a site for sample collection. reports:

Bennu is thought to have formed soon after the sun, at around the same time as the solar system's planets. While the constant activity of volcanoes, earthquakes and erosion changed the chemistry of Earth's material since that time (as likely happened on other planets), Bennu remains virtually unmarred. A sample of the asteroid should therefore provide a time-capsule-like glimpse of the planets' youth, the researchers said.

[...] To complete its planned science objectives, OSIRIS-REx needs to collect a least a 2-ounce (60 grams) sample from Bennu. Once that material lands back on Earth, scientists will probe the sample with complex experiments that just aren't possible in space. [...] "This will be the largest sample-return mission since the Apollo era," said Christine Richey, OSIRIS-REx deputy program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The returned capsule will provide a bounty not only for today's scientists, but also for future generations, Richey said. Three-fourths of the sample will be archived for later study, allowing scientists to answer questions that haven't been thought of today, using instruments yet to be imagined.

Spaceflight Now has a page dedicated to providing updates on this flight: Live coverage: Thursday's Atlas 5 countdown and launch journal


One item of note from Spaceflight Now:

The Atlas 5, designated AV-067, will be making its 65th flight since 2002 and flying for the fourth time in the particular 411 configuration with a single solid rocket booster. Stacking began Aug. 8. [Emphasis added.]

They also have a page with some great pics of the rocket and its roll out to the launch pad.

Ars Technica just published a story explaining the uniqueness of the launch configuration: Why tonight's launch of an asymmetric rocket is must-see TV — An Atlas V rocket with a single solid rocket booster has a unique launch profile.

Also at The New York Times , The Washington Post , and

More details about the mission is available on the NASA website.

Original Submission

Related Stories

ULA Exec: SpaceX could be Grounded for 9-12 Months 12 comments

An executive from SpaceX's chief competitor, the United Launch Alliance (ULA), predicts that SpaceX won't conduct any more launches for the next 9 to 12 months, as it makes repairs and investigates the explosion of a Falcon 9 booster on Sept. 1:

"It typically takes nine to 12 months for people to return to flight. That's what the history is," Tory Bruno, chief executive of United Launch Alliance, told Reuters. [...] Bruno said the main issue after accidents involving space launches has "always been figuring out what went wrong on the rocket, being confident that you know ... how to fix it and then actually getting that fix in place." Repairing damage to the launch pad is usually not a significant issue, he said. "Historically, it had never been the pad that's taken the longest time," he said.

Bruno spoke with Reuters a few hours before ULA, a partnership of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, was preparing to launch its 111th rocket, so far all successfully. An Atlas 5 rocket, carrying a NASA asteroid sample-return spacecraft, was poised for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida about 1.2 miles (2 km) away from the SpaceX launch site.[*]

Bruno said he called SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell shortly after the accident to extend sympathies and offer help. "It's a small community and issues especially around safety - but even mission success - kind of transcend the competitive piece of this," Bruno added.

ULA and SpaceX are rivals for private space missions and launches by U.S. government agencies. Musk's company in May broke ULA's monopoly on flying U.S. military and national security satellites, winning an $83 million Air Force contract to launch a Global Positioning System satellite in 2018. The two firms are expected to square off over a second satellite launch services bid, which closes on Sept. 19.

[*] See SoylentNews coverage: OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission - Launch Successful -Ed.

Original Submission

OSIRIS-REx Images Earth During Gravity Assist Flyby 16 comments

OSIRIS-REx has captured an image of Earth as it flew by our planet for a gravity assist:

"The dark vertical streaks at the top of the image are caused by short exposure times (less than three milliseconds)," NASA officials wrote in an image description Tuesday (Sept. 26). "Short exposure times are required for imaging an object as bright as Earth, but are not anticipated for an object as dark as the asteroid Bennu, which the camera was designed to image."

The $800 million OSIRIS-REx mission — whose name is short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer — launched on Sept. 8, 2016. If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will arrive at the 1,640-foot-wide (500 meters) Bennu late next year.

OSIRIS-REx will study the rock from orbit for more than 18 months and then head in to snag a sample of dirt and gravel from Bennu's surface in July 2020. This material will parachute to Earth's surface inside a special return capsule in September 2023.

101955 Bennu.

Previously: OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission - Launch Successful

Original Submission

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Completes Final Tour of Asteroid Bennu 5 comments

NASA reports, via NASA, that OSIRIS-REx is leaving Bennu.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx completed its last flyover of Bennu around 6 a.m. EDT (4 a.m. MDT) April 7 and is now slowly drifting away from the asteroid; however, the mission team will have to wait a few more days to find out how the spacecraft changed the surface of Bennu when it grabbed a sample of the asteroid.

The OSIRIS-REx team added this flyby to document surface changes resulting from the Touch and Go (TAG) sample collection maneuver Oct. 20, 2020. "By surveying the distribution of the excavated material around the TAG site, we will learn more about the nature of the surface and subsurface materials along with the mechanical properties of the asteroid," said Dr. Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona.

During the flyby, OSIRIS-REx imaged Bennu for 5.9 hours, covering more than a full rotation of the asteroid. It flew within 2.1 miles' (3.5 kilometers) distance to the surface of Bennu – the closest it's been since the TAG sample collection event.

Just to mention, the survey and selection of a sampling site was one of the recent "citizen science" projects.

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  • (Score: 2) by martyb on Thursday September 08 2016, @09:19PM

    by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 08 2016, @09:19PM (#399362) Journal

    For those who want up-to-the-second information, the launch is being carried on NASA TV [].

    From what I can tell by viewing the page source, the feed is SWF (flash), but I do not have flash installed. OTOH, I can play such files/streams/media using VLC. Would appreciate it if someone could post link(s) to the stream(s).

    Wit is intellect, dancing.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by richtopia on Thursday September 08 2016, @09:35PM

    by richtopia (3160) on Thursday September 08 2016, @09:35PM (#399368) Homepage Journal

    I tried a single booster in Kerbal Space Program like the Atlas V 411, and it always crashed.

    I just want to save NASA from the trial and error procedure I've developed while playing KSP.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by martyb on Thursday September 08 2016, @09:55PM

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 08 2016, @09:55PM (#399377) Journal

      I tried a single booster in Kerbal Space Program like the Atlas V 411, and it always crashed.

      I just want to save NASA from the trial and error procedure I've developed while playing KSP.

      Hmmm? From the Ars Technica [] link in TFS:

      The Atlas V 411 variant, with just a single strap-on solid booster, has flown only three times previously, and just once from Cape Canaveral back in 2006. The other two launches, in 2008 and 2011, were national security payloads that flew from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Los Angeles. Up to five strap-on boosters can be added to an Atlas V launch vehicle, but it makes sense to only pay for the power you need. For the Bennu-bound spacecraft, which will get a gravity assist from Earth in one year, just one booster is required.

      As there is only poor quality video [] of the non-classified 2006 launch, tonight offers a viewing opportunity for people to see an Atlas V 411 fly with unprecedented clarity. And it should be quite a show. With just a single strap-on booster, the rocket will have to gimbal its main engine, the RD-180, during the initial ascent to account for the lack of symmetry. Fortunately the RD-180 engine, with its two nozzles, can gimbal (or pivot) up to 8 degrees during full thrust. You will be able see this skewed thrust during liftoff, which should look quite awkward but is nonetheless well grounded in rocket science.

      I would agree, however, that when referring to a rocket "well grounded" may not have been the best choice of words. =)

      Wit is intellect, dancing.
    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Friday September 09 2016, @07:26AM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 09 2016, @07:26AM (#399517) Journal
      This was humour surely? It is currently tagged as 'Insightful'!
      • (Score: 2) by gidds on Friday September 09 2016, @12:45PM

        by gidds (589) on Friday September 09 2016, @12:45PM (#399582)

        What?  Next, you'll be saying that this [] isn't true!

        [sig redacted]
        • (Score: 2) by gidds on Friday September 09 2016, @12:50PM

          by gidds (589) on Friday September 09 2016, @12:50PM (#399585)

          Or this []!

          [sig redacted]
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09 2016, @10:28AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09 2016, @10:28AM (#399562)

    'OSIRIS-REx' (Osiris the King)? Really, NASA?

    Unlikely as it might sound to a lot of people, NASA hq is just a bunch of (quite lame and desperate) Sun worshiping clowns.

    On the lighter side of things, once you are able to see through the deception and stop being pissed about, hilarity ensues! (both for someone into technology as well as someone into the occult) Example: NASA 'astronaut' hairsprayed hair inside the 'ISS' [] as compared to hair behavior in real freefall [] (kids these days, yes. But notice the hair).

    Another year, another billion stolen. Well done, NASA! But your smoke and mirrors hoaxes are getting easier to see through, and less people are buying into them by the hour. Party's over!


    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09 2016, @01:54PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09 2016, @01:54PM (#399604)

      Numbnuts here has a poor comprehension of how hair spray works too! Maybe you need a girlfriend?