NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft – and the rocket that will carry it into space, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V – are making significant strides toward launch, planned for Sept. 8.
Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians have installed thermal blankets around the spacecraft (pictured above), culminating with a solar array illumination test today. These activities set the stage for spacecraft closeouts, weighing and fueling, planned for next week.
The Atlas V rocket is coming together across the Banana River at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The vehicle’s Centaur upper stage arrived July 21 (center photo), and the first-stage booster followed on July 29. Both elements currently are in the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center. The rocket’s booster, solid rocket motor and Centaur upper stage are slated to be assembled Aug. 8 through 10 in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41.
OSIRIS-REx 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. Analysis of the sample will reveal the history of the asteroid, called Bennu, over the past 4.5 billion years.
Photo credits: NASA/Michelle Stone (top), NASA/Cory Huston (center) and NASA/Kim Shiflett