United Launch Alliance called off the planned launch of an Atlas 5 rocket Wednesday at Cape Canaveral to resolve a problem with valves at the launch pad, while a SpaceX team a mile-and-a-half to the south readied a Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff Thursday evening with a GPS navigation satellite for the U.S. military.
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.