Built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, Colorado, the spacecraft measures 10.33 by 8 feet and will be powered in space by two solar panels generating 1,226 watts to 3,000 watts, depending on the distance from the sun. With both of its arrays deployed, the spacecraft extends to 20.25 feet long. Learn more about the spacecraft and its instruments.
OSIRIS-REx is expected to reach Bennu in August 2018, collect a sample from the asteroid in July 2020, depart in March 2021, and return the sample to Earth with a parachute landing in Utah in September 2023.
“We’re following on the heels of successful NASA missions like Stardust. In fact, our return capsule is using the same technology that the Stardust mission did to bring those amazing materials back,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson, referring to the mission that launched in 1999, collected particle samples from comet Wild-2, and returned those particles to Earth in 2006.
The OSIRIS-REx mission includes seven years of spacecraft operations and two years of sample analysis in laboratories on Earth.
“We’ve got great science ahead of us,” Lauretta said Tuesday. “I’m really excited to get to this milestone — to get OSIRIS-REx launched on its journey to Bennu and back.”
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston