NASA's Asteroid Sample Return Mission Moves Into Development

         NASA's Asteroid Sample Return Mission Moves Into Development

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA's first mission to
sample an asteroid is moving ahead into development and testing in preparation
for its launch in 2016.


The Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith
Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) passed a confirmation review Wednesday called Key
Decision Point (KDP)-C. NASA officials reviewed a series of detailed project
assessments and authorized the spacecraft's continuation into the development

OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and return a sample
of it to Earth in 2023.

"Successfully passing KDP-C is a major milestone for the project," said Mike
Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md. "This means NASA believes we have an executable plan to return
a sample from Bennu. It now falls on the project and its development team
members to execute that plan."

Bennu could hold clues to the origin of the solar system. OSIRIS-REx will map
the asteroid's global properties, measure non-gravitational forces and provide
observations that can be compared with data obtained by telescope observations
from Earth. OSIRIS-REx will collect a minimum of 2 ounces (60 grams) of
surface material.

"The entire OSIRIS-REx team has worked very hard to get to this point," said
Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona
in Tucson. "We have a long way to go before we arrive at Bennu, but I have
every confidence when we do, we will have built a supremely capable system to
return a sample of this primitive asteroid."

The mission will be a vital part of NASA's plans to find, study, capture and
relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts. NASA recently announced an
asteroid initiative proposing a strategy to leverage human and robotic
activities for the first human mission to an asteroid while also accelerating
efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. will provide overall
mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance. The
University of Arizona in Tucson is the principal investigator institution.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx
is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages New Frontiers for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information on OSIRIS-REx, visit:



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