It May Not Be ARM Option B, But It Helps Light The Way
For more background on this mission:
The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security — Regolith Explorer spacecraft will travel to a near-Earth asteroid, called Bennu (formerly 1999 RQ36), and bring at least a 2.1-ounce sample back to Earth for study. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in late 2016. As planned, the spacecraft will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.
It seems that NASA has turned on the part of this project that allows for the construction of the actual spacecraft, so that’s a great bit of news. It is only bringing back a small part of an asteroid, but a lot of what OSIRIS-Rex will do is an analog for ARM Option B.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Passes Critical Milestone
Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard
NASA’s groundbreaking science mission to retrieve a sample from an ancient space rock has moved closer to fruition. The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has passed a critical milestone in its path towards launch and is officially authorized to transition into its next phase.
Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D) occurs after the project has completed a series of independent reviews that cover the technical health, schedule and cost of the project. The milestone represents the official transition from the mission’s development stage to delivery of systems, testing and integration leading to launch. During this part of the mission’s life cycle, known as Phase D, the spacecraft bus, or the structure that will carry the science instruments, is completed, the instruments are integrated into the spacecraft and tested, and the spacecraft is shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the rocket.