Pictured: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket first stage booster is lifted into position at Space Launch Complex 41, located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 8. The Centaur upper stage was hoisted atop the booster today.
The vehicle will boost NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Targeted for liftoff Sept. 8, 2016, 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. The asteroid, Bennu, may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.
Photo credits: NASA/Glenn Benson