2016: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Launches from Earth

This week, we are recapping noteworthy OSIRIS-REx mission events each day so you can catch up on anything you may have missed so far in NASA’s first mission to collect a sample from an asteroid.  

(Post #1 in a series of four) 

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NASA’s first mission to sample an asteroid, OSIRIS-REx, launched on Sept. 8, 2016, at 7:05 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. About the size of an S.U.V., OSIRIS-REx would travel for two years to a near-Earth asteroid originally designated 1999 RQ36. The name “Bennu,” referencing an ancient Egyptian deity, was picked in 2013 by nine-year-old Michael Puzio, from North Carolina, who won a naming competition.  

NASA chose to go to Bennu because the asteroid possesses several key characteristics that make it perfect for a sample return mission. Here are all the reasons why 

Scientists around the globe have been waiting for years for the spacecraft to deliver a sample from Bennu to Earth. Among the many questions they’ve been waiting to explore by analyzing pieces of Bennu is: Did asteroids deliver molecules that played a role in the origin of life on Earth, and potentially on other planets and moons? 

Learn more: 

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Speeds Toward Asteroid Rendezvous 

Why Bennu? 10 Reasons 

Coming up tomorrow:Arrival at Bennu — A World Full of Surprises.” 

— Lonnie Shekhtman 

NASA Prepares for Historic Asteroid Sample Delivery on Sept. 24

After seven years in space, including a nail-biting touchdown on Bennu in 2020 to gather up dust and rocks, NASA’s intrepid OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is about to face one of its biggest challenges yet: deliver an asteroid sample to Earth while protecting it from heat, vibrations, and earthly contaminants.   

“Once the sample capsule touches down, our team will be racing against the clock to recover it and get it to the safety of a temporary clean room,” said Mike Moreau, deputy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

Learn more here.

Welcome to the OSIRIS-REx Blog


Welcome to the OSIRIS-REx blog. Here you will find updates on NASA’s first mission to collect an asteroid sample for analysis in labs around the globe.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is cruising back to Earth now with samples it collected at the rocky surface of asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20, 2020. The spacecraft will deliver these samples on Sept. 24, 2023, thereby expanding NASA’s legacy of bold missions to collect extraterrestrial samples of rocks and regolith – missions that started in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon’s surface.

We invite you to check back here regularly to learn how NASA is preparing for the sample return event. You’ll learn how the asteroid sample will make it to Earth’s surface and meet the scientists and engineers who will collect the sample capsule in the Utah desert, where it will land. We’ll also give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the extensive rehearsals necessary to transport, open, and store this pristine cache of rocks and dust that can reveal the history of our solar system.  

– The OSIRIS-REx Team

If you want to learn more about the OSIRIS-REx launch in 2016, see the posts below.