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
In the image above, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft rotates on a spin table during a weight and center of gravity test May 24 inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. An overhead crane carefully returned the spacecraft to its work stand May 26 (right) to continue prelaunch processing.
OSIRIS-REx, stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. The spacecraft will travel to an asteroid, Bennu, retrieve a sample and return it to Earth. Liftoff is targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Photos by NASA/Kim Shiflett (above) and NASA/Frank Michaux (right)
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday evening aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.
OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. This 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.
Tucked inside a shipping container, the spacecraft traveled from Lockheed Martin’s facility near Denver, Colorado to Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility. It was carefully offloaded from the aircraft and transported to the spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to begin processing for its upcoming launch, targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Photo credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis (top) and NASA/Bill White (right)