Liftoff of OSIRIS-REx: First U.S. Sample Return Mission to an Asteroid
On September 8, NASA launched the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid. The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at near-Earth asteroid Bennu in 2018, survey the asteroid's surface, retrieve at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of surface material, and return the sample to Earth in 2023 for study. Analysis of the sample will reveal the earliest stages of the solar system's evolution and the history of Bennu over the past 4.5 billion years.