NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is about to be sealed inside the nose fairing of its Atlas 5 rocket booster for a seven-year voyage to asteroid Bennu and back to Earth on a mission to seek out clues to the origin of life and the chaotic early solar system.
The solar-powered, 4,651-pound (2,110-kilogram) spacecraft is inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Since arriving at KSC on May 20 from its Lockheed Martin factory in Denver, OSIRIS-REx has been checked out, fueled and tested for launch.
Many of NASA’s robotic solar system missions have prepared for launch inside the PHSF, including the Curiosity Mars rover, the Cassini orbiter at Saturn, and the Stardust spacecraft that returned samples from a comet’s coma.
OSIRIS-REx will be encapsulated inside the Atlas 5 nose cone, seen in the background of these images, later this week and transported to Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad Aug. 29, where ground crews will stack the payload on top of the rocket’s Centaur upper stage.
Liftoff is set for Sept. 8.
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