The forecast for launch of the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft remains 80 percent “go” atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday from Space Launch Complex 41 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Today, NASA will air two OSIRIS-REx events on NASA TV. Social media followers may ask questions during both using #askNASA.
Noon to 1 p.m. – OSIRIS-REx NASA Social
NASA will host a discussion with representatives from the mission’s science and engineering teams that includes an overview of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and the science behind the mission. This event will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.
1 to 2 p.m. – Uncovering the Secrets of Asteroids Briefing
During this panel at OSB II, NASA scientists will discuss asteroids, how they relate to the origins of our solar system, and the search for life beyond Earth. Panelists are:
- Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist
- Michelle Thaller, deputy director of science communications for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
- Lindley Johnson, director of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
- Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at Goddard
Launch week has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is slated to lift off Thursday, Sept. 8, sending the agency’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to the asteroid Bennu. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41. Learn more about this ambitious mission.
Forecasters with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting an 80 percent of “go” weather at launch time, with the possibility of cumulus clouds as the main concern.
Officials are holding a Launch Readiness Review today to ensure the spacecraft and rocket are prepared for this week’s activities. This afternoon, NASA will hold two briefings at Kennedy. Both briefings will air live on NASA TV. Events and participants are:
1 p.m. – Prelaunch mission briefing at the Kennedy Press Site
- Geoffrey Yoder, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington
- Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson
- Tim Dunn, NASA launch manager at Kennedy
- Scott Messer, program manager for NASA missions at ULA in Centennial, Colorado
- Michael Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
- Rich Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver
- Clay Flinn, launch weather officer for the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
2 p.m. – OSIRIS-REx mission science briefing at the Kennedy Press Site
- Christina Richey, OSIRIS-REx deputy program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington
- Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at Goddard
- Daniella DellaGiustina, OSIRIS-REx lead image processing scientist at the University of Arizona, Tucson
Launch and mission controllers are at their consoles this afternoon in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming launch of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Goddard Space Flight Center, United Launch Alliance and Lockheed Martin all are participating in today’s test.
OSIRIS-REx is sealed inside the payload fairing and already in place atop the rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch team is based at the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center a few miles south of the launch site.
Photo credit: NASA/ Dimitri Gerondidakis
Launch and mission officials gathered this morning for the OSIRIS-REx Flight Readiness Review and concluded that there are no issues or concerns that would preclude continuing to target launch next Thursday, Sept. 8. Liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is planned for 7:05 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 on Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The Atlas V, including the payload fairing containing the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, is in place at the pad, where vehicle closeouts have started. The spacecraft on-pad functional test will be completed today. A launch countdown dress rehearsal is set for Friday afternoon.
The Launch Readiness Review planned for Tuesday, Sept. 6 will be the final prelaunch readiness check before teams proceed with the countdown.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was lifted into the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 and bolted into place on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V on Monday. The spacecraft, enclosed in a protective fairing, is to liftoff aboard the rocket on Sept. 8 to begin its mission to survey an asteroid called Bennu and then take a small sample from its surface and send that sample to Earth for analysis. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
The booster and Centaur upper stage of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V vent gaseous propellant during a “wet dress rehearsal” test at Space Launch Complex 41 on Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will boost NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on its way to the asteroid Bennu. Short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, OSIRIS-REx is to survey the asteroid closely before taking a sample from its surface and sending that small sample back to Earth for study.
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 may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft comes one step closer to launch today as it is sealed inside the two-piece payload fairing that will protect it during the critical early minutes of liftoff. This process, called encapsulation, is taking place inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) at Kennedy Space Center, where OSIRIS-REx has undergone prelaunch processing since its arrival in Florida in May.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will boost OSIRIS-REx into space also is progressing toward launch day. The first-stage booster and its Centaur upper stage are in place at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where a tanking test is planned for Thursday.
Early Monday morning, the payload fairing containing OSIRIS-REx will roll from the PHSF to the launch pad, where it will be mated to the Atlas V.
Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson
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
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
A spacecraft designed to sample an asteroid and return that sample to Earth will depend greatly on its communications systems with Earth to relay everything from its health and status to scientific findings from making a detailed survey of the asteroid known as Bennu. That’s why engineers from NASA’s Deep Space Network spent the past couple of weeks performing detailed tests of the various communications systems on the OSIRIS-REx spaceraft.
More than a simple on-off evaluation, the tests call for analyses that simulate the millions of miles of distance that signals from the spacecraft will have to traverse to reach the gigantic antennas of the Deep Space Network placed in California, Spain and Canberra, Australia. With dishes measuring up to 230 feet in diameter, the Earthbound communications network is geared to pick up faint transmissions from probes that are exploring the solar system.
The recent tests were completed inside a long, single-story building at Kennedy known as MIL-71. Its name harkens back to the time when Kennedy was known as the Merritt Island Launch Annex, or MILA. Communications systems allow only three letters, so it was shortened the MIL. In much the same way, the asteroid sampling mission called OSIRIS-REx by its management is known in Deep Space Network and communications circles by its own three-letter acronym, ORX.
It takes a roomful of specialized gear to perform the testing which calls for simulating the vast distances of space though the spacecraft and instruments are in buildings next door to each other. The team heads back to California soon to apply their work to the system and get ready to use it for launch.
They won’t know until about 20 minutes after liftoff whether their testing was performed correctly and the spacecraft will effectively communicate with Earth. It is around that time that the OSIRIS-REx will separate from the upper stage of the Atlas V rocket. Assuming they get a signal like they expect, the spacecraft will unfurl its solar arrays and head for the asteroid, keeping Earth updated to the progress throughout its journey. Photo credit: NASA/ Dimitri Gerondidakis