NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft — currently sealed inside the payload fairing of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket — is on track to leave Earth behind and kick off an ambitious voyage to asteroid Bennu.
Liftoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Countdown clocks just ticked past the T-80 minute mark – T-1 hour, 20 minutes. Launch Weather Officer Clay Flinn with the U.S. Air Force Weather Squadron now is predicting a 90 percent chance of weather cooperating for launch this evening.
OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, and it’s the United States’ first mission to collect a sample from an asteroid’s surface and return it to Earth, where it could help answer questions about how our solar system formed and how life on our planet began.
Mission officials and launch team members are gathered in the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center, where controllers have been stationed at their consoles since midday. NASA’s Launch Blog originates from a console in nearby Hangar AE. We’ll tell you more about the OSIRIS-REx mission — and the Atlas V rocket that’s sending it on its way — as the countdown continues, so stay with us.
Photo credit: NASA/Bill White