The sampling mechanism on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is stuffed with specimens captured from asteroid Bennu earlier this week — so full that some of the rocks are floating out into space. Officials said Friday they will stow the samples inside the mission’s Earth return capsule sooner than planned to minimize the loss of asteroid material.
Mars rovers go through seven minutes of terror when they plunge into the Martian atmosphere at hypersonic speed. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will take a more glacial approach to its asteroid target Tuesday, and the event will be more akin to four-and-a-half hours of mild anxiety for ground teams, according to the mission’s operations manager.
NASA has selected 14 companies for contracts of more than $370 million to advance technology for human missions to the moon and Mars. Most of the money will support flight demonstrations by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and other companies that could lead to in-space refueling and propellant depots for reusable lunar landers and deep space transportation vehicles.
The Space Force says it changed the nickname of a GPS navigation satellite launched in June from Columbus to instead honor Matthew Henson, a Black explorer on the first expedition to the North Pole more than a century ago, “to acknowledge a fuller history of courageous explorers and pioneers.” The military’s next GPS navigation satellite, set for launch Friday night, is nicknamed Sacagawea.