‘A Night for Celebration’

Liftoff of the Atlas V carrying NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraftNASA’s first asteroid sampling mission launched into space at 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning a journey that could revolutionize our understanding of the early solar system.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V boosted NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, onto a path to the asteroid Bennu. Shortly after the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle, controllers on the ground received welcome news from orbit: the spacecraft’s solar panels had deployed and it was healthy.

“The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is happy and healthy,” said Rich Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. “We started the journey with a phenomenal launch on the Atlas V, it delivered us right where we needed to be, separated where we said we would – and since then, it’s been knocking out milestone after milestone.”

“Tonight is a night for celebration – we are on the way to an asteroid,” said Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist. “We’re going to be answering some of the most fundamental questions that NASA works on.”

Read the full launch story:

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett