Spaceflight Insider

OSIRIS-REx completes critical deep space maneuver

Artists concept of OSIRIS-REx executing its first deep space mneuver. Image Credit: University of Arizona

Artist’s concept of OSIRIS-REx executing its first deep space maneuver (DSM 1). Image Credit: University of Arizona

Tracking data provided by NASA’s Deep Space Network has confirmed that the agency’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is on course for its target – asteroid Bennu.

OSIRIS-REx Orbit Diagram – 2017-1-16

Orbital position of OSIRIS-REx, Jan. 16, 2017. (Click to enlarge) Image Credit: Uni. of Arizona

OSIRIS-REx conducted its first Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-1) on Dec. 28, 2016 – aligning it for a gravitational assist that it will receive from Earth in the fall of this year (2017). This was the first major milestone that the spacecraft has performed on its way to Bennu which was discovered by the LINEAR Project on Sept. 11, 1999. The DSM-1 was required so that the spacecraft could meet up with Earth this September (2017).

“DSM-1 was our first major trajectory change and first use of the main engines, so it’s good to have that under our belts and be on a safe trajectory to Bennu,” said Arlin Bartels, deputy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

It appears that OSIRIS-REx nailed it and is well on its way to reach the leftover from the Solar System’s formation in about two years’ time.

This was the first major maneuver to be conducted using the spacecraft’s main engines. According to a statement issued by the space agency, the burn “resulted in a 964 miles per hour (431 meters per second) change in the vehicle’s velocity utilizing 780 pounds (354 kilograms) of fuel.”

NASA knew that everything had gone as planned when tracking data and subsequent downlink of high-rate telemetry confirmed that all of OSIRIS-REx’s subsystems had performed as advertised.

A smaller trajectory correction maneuver was conducted on Wednesday, Jan. 18, to further refine OSIRIS-REx’s flight path for the Earth flyby. If everything goes as planned, the $800 mission will have its spacecraft ‘flung’ toward a meeting with asteroid Bennu in the fall of 2018. Afterward, it will collect a sample from the tiny world which will be sent back to scientists on Earth for study.

 

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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