Lockheed Martin announced on Wednesday that it has finished assembling NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which is scheduled to be apart of the first U.S. mission to return asteroid samples to Earth.
Rick Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, stated in the company’s press release that it’s “an exciting time for the program” because now that the spaceship is assembled, it’s time to “test drive it” before its flight to Bennu — an Apollo asteroid discovered back in 1999 by the LINEAR Project. Bennu is also the name of ancient Egyptian deity linked to creation, rebirth and the Sun. On that note, Osiris was the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, resurrection and fertility.
Kuhns also noted that the environmental testing phase that the spacecraft has just entered into is “an important time in the mission, as it will reveal any issues with the spacecraft and instruments,” while it’s still down on Earth.
This is an exciting time for the program, as we now have a completed spacecraft and the team gets to test drive it, in a sense, before we actually fly it to Bennu (…) The environmental test phase is an important time in the mission, as it will reveal any issues with the spacecraft and instruments, while here on Earth, before we send it into deep space.
OSIRIS-REx — Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer — is scheduled to fly to the carbon-rich asteroid of Bennu in order to obtain at least 60 grams of samples. And while it might not sound like much, there’s a chance it could hold clues as to the solar system’s origins.
Not only might the samples be useful to scientists intent on understanding the origins of the solar system, they may also harbor information on the source of source of water and organic molecules that have made their way down to Earth.
The ship is scheduled for transport from Lockheed Martin’s facility to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center come May of next year. Once it has arrived at Kennedy Space Center, OSIRIS-REx will undergo its final launch preparations.
Launch is scheduled for September 2016.
In other space coverage here at Immortal News, SpaceX announced earlier this month that it intends to resume rocket launches by December of this year, possibly in November.