December 28, 2016 – NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft executed its first deep space maneuver December 28, 2016, putting it on course for an Earth flyby in September 2017.
OSIRIS-REx will use the Earth flyby in order to boost its velocity and to modify its orbital inclination to six degrees in order to match that of asteroid Bennu. Flying on a direct trajectory to the asteroid would have required a larger launch vehicle and increased costs beyond the budget of the mission.
This is the first in a series of Deep Space Maneuvers for OSIRIS-REx. These maneuvers use the spacecraft’s four MR-107 main engines, each generating 200 Newtons of thrust, for a total change in velocity of 520 meters per second.
The mission team will continue to examine telemetry and tracking data. Multiple Trajectory Correction Maneuvers will then be used to clean up the large main engine burns and fine-tune the Earth flyby trajectory.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently on a seven-year journey to rendezvous with, study, and bring a sample of Bennu to Earth. This sample of a primitive asteroid will help scientists understand the formation of our solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team and the mission’s science observation planning and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the spacecraft in Littleton, Colorado, and is providing flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.