August 24, 2016 – After arriving at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was put on a spin table for a weight and center of gravity test. The spacecraft is being prepared for its upcoming launch, targeted for September 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Today, OSIRIS-REx was completely encapsulated in its payload fairing and the first two stages of the Atlas V were rolled out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal, or simulated launch.
During the rehearsal, the first stage and the Centaur second stage are moved to the launch pad and filled with propellants to verify that everything works as expected. After the test, the Atlas V is rolled back into the Vertical Integration Facility.
The spacecraft, in its protective fairing, will be mated to the rocket next week. The complete Atlas V will then be rolled out to the launch pad on September 7.
OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. This will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve at least two ounces of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The asteroid, Bennu, may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado built the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission’s principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
This is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.