NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Officially Ready for Touchdown on Asteroid Bennu

| May 21, 2020

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Today’s S&T post is brought to you by NASA, and is showcasing a sample-and-return mission to the asteroid Bennu. Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group, discovered by the LINEAR Project on 11 September 1999. It is a potentially hazardous object, so there’s that.

TOPICS: Asteroid NASAN ASA Goddard Space Flight Center OSIRIS-REx


NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission is officially prepared for its long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu’s surface. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has targeted October 20, 2020, for its first sample collection attempt.

“The OSIRIS-REx mission has been demonstrating the very essence of exploration by persevering through unexpected challenges,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science. “That spirit has led them to the cusp of the prize we all are waiting for – securing a sample of an asteroid to bring home to Earth, and I’m very excited to follow them through the home stretch.”

From discovering Bennu’s surprisingly rugged and active surface, to entering the closest-ever orbit around a planetary body, OSIRIS-REx has overcome several challenges since arriving at the asteroid in December 2018. Last month, the mission brought the spacecraft 213 ft (65 m) from the asteroid’s surface during its first sample collection rehearsal — successfully completing a practice run of the activities leading up to the sampling event.

Now that the mission is ready to collect a sample, the team is facing a different kind of challenge here on Earth. In response to COVID-19 constraints and after the intense preparation for the first rehearsal, the OSIRIS-REx mission has decided to provide its team with additional preparation time for both the final rehearsal and the sample collection event. Spacecraft activities require significant lead time for the development and testing of operations, and given the current requirements that limit in-person participation at the mission support area, the mission would benefit from giving the team additional time to complete these preparations in the new environment. As a result, both the second rehearsal and first sample collection attempt will have two extra months for planning.

“In planning the mission, we included robust schedule margin while at Bennu to provide the flexibility to address unexpected challenges,” said Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “This flexibility has allowed us to adapt to the surprises that Bennu has thrown at us. It’s now time to prioritize the health and safety of both team members and the spacecraft.”

Interesting. Read the rest of the article here: SciTech Daily

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Science and Technology

Comments (13)

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  1. Skyjumper says:

    I’m not much into space stuff, but found this interesting that they plan on sending a crew served craft on this mission.

    “The team concluded that a site designated “Nightingale” – located in a crater high in Bennu’s northern hemisphere – is the best spot for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to snag its sample.”

    Found this clip on You-Tube (no you’re not going deaf, just no sound).

    Talk about some serious piloting skills required in attempting this procedure.

  2. Cameron says:

    Looks like there was an active shooter situation in Corpus Christi. Base is in lockdown.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Saw this- lockdown is over, one security guard was injured but will be released from medical care today. The unnamed suspect was “neutralized” what ever that means.

      Cameron, I’m pretty laid back when it comes to comments, but please in the future try to keep them at least in visual range of the post.

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Cool as all hell. I like space related sciencey stuff. I have since my Battlestar Galactica Door Gunner days. Too bad getting lost in the space of Maureen Robinson’s nether regions caused me to self identity as a midget wookie and go solo as a smuggler. Hell, that was a millennium ago. Code name Falcon, but don’t tell anybody.

    Reading thru the linky, seems as if the space craft has just been hanging around the space rock since December of ’18. Would it be in orbit thereof or has the fuel required to fly alongside,land, grab the 3 samples, take off, fly back home, and land with the samples? Hope I live long enough to see this mission completed. Hope, too, that it (the rock) if made up of rare earth minerals and we go and mine the SOB, negating any loss of rare earth minerals that we never took a chance to mine in A’Stan. Was not really aware of the rare earth minerals in A’Stan till it was mentioned on TAH. Next question, off thread, is why in hell haven’t we already staked out a claim and mined the hell out of it? Are the opium profits that much more better?

  4. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    Our first manned mission launch in a long time is in seven days, I believe. SpaceX Dragon Crew flight to ISS.

    • ChipNASA says:

      Wednesday the 27th mid day…

      I just processed a bunch of documents and people and shit to get some HST Tools out of the office to go to JSC and then to KSC to be ready to go up for a battery change out on ISS for the Satellite Servicing project onboard there currently.

      • Mason says:

        You guys gotta be pretty excited. Finally launching Americans on an American rocket from America again.

        One reason I want to see Trump re-elected is to keep on track for the moon in 2024. Exciting times if the program doesn’t get gutted (again).

        • ChipNASA says:

          Don’t get me started about how fucking furious I am that we had to go a decade with no plans after the space shuttle quit flying to be able to move people on orbit.
          Seriously paying the Russians to do it has gotta be the dumbest fucking thing we’ve ever done.
          There’s absolutely no fucking excuse we shouldn’t have a plan and no gap to be able to fly people wherever the fuck we wanted we could put them on the moon or Mars years ago.
          Politicians neutered the Space Program, The ones on capital hill, the ones at NASA headquarters, the ones in industry.
          I’m glad we elected a president with enough balls for all of us.
          United States of America needs to be a top again not a fucking bottom

  5. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    JAXA has their own asteroid mission that is headed back home (Hayabasa 2). Should be delivering it’s samples sometime later this year.