The construction of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at Lockheed Martin has reached its completion.
Lockheed Martin is the venue where the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft has been built literally from scratch. The genius minds behind NASA are responsible for this achievement of colossal dimensions.
The environmental testing of the spacecraft is currently taking place on a rigorous basis. Its Space Systems center, situated close to Denver, Colarado, is where most of the action is going on. The purpose of this mission is to venture forth into outer space and collect samples from an asteroid. Then it will make its way back to earth.
OSIRIS-REx is an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. The goal of the spacecraft is Bennu, an asteroid that has copious quantities of carbon in it.
“This is an exciting time for the program, as we now have a completed spacecraft and the team gets to test drive it, in a sense, before we actually fly it to Bennu,” said Rich Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
“The environmental test phase is an important time in the mission, as it will reveal any issues with the spacecraft and instruments, while here on Earth, before we send it into deep space.”
This asteroid may lend us valuable clues into the origins of the solar system. It is indeed quite an exhilarating time for the team working on OSIRIS-REx since now they will be testing the spacecraft. And finally when it does take off for Bennu, it will be an intensely interesting journey. The team can’t wait for the time to come when the actual trip takes place.
The road testing phase is very important since it will reveal any flaws or kinks in the system. Over the next half a year or so, the spacecraft will be thoroughly tested in every possible way.
“This milestone marks the end of the design and assembly stage,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “We now move on to test the entire flight system over the range of environmental conditions that will be experienced on the journey to Bennu and back. This phase is critical to mission success, and I am confident that we have built the right system for the job.”
By the time the sweltering heat of the month of May arrives next year, the spacecraft will be shifted to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Here the last minute touches will be made to the vessel that will fly off into the vastness of space. The budget is not being broken and everything is under control.
The various functions of the spacecraft are being kept flexible and ready for action on an ad hoc basis. The launch date is 16th of September, 2016. A 60 gram sample of rocky terrain will be brought back to earth from Bennu.
“OSIRIS-REx is entering environmental testing on schedule, on budget and with schedule reserves,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This allows us to have flexibility if any concerns arise during final launch preparations.”
Bennu holds a lot of rich information that may aid mankind in gaining a greater knowledge of the universe. Furthermore, the chances of a meteor smashing into the earth will be minimized via experiments done on Bennu.
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The spacecraft is in tiptop condition and it will hopefully make its way to the asteroid and back. Then our knowledge base will have been extended thanks to the plethora of info that will have been gathered from the mission.