OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Begins Prelaunch Processing Ahead of Asteroid Mission

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is revealed after its protective cover is removed inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.Tucked into a shipping container, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is unloaded from an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft on the Shuttle Landing Facility runway at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday evening aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.

OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. This will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve at least two ounces of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The asteroid, Bennu, may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.

Tucked inside a shipping container, the spacecraft traveled from Lockheed Martin’s facility near Denver, Colorado to Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility. It was carefully offloaded from the aircraft and transported to the spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to begin processing for its upcoming launch, targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Photo credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis (top) and NASA/Bill White (right)