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UA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Being Readied For September Launch

OSIRIS-REx in the clean room
(Photo by Christine Hoekenga - University of Arizona via NASA)
OSIRIS-REx in the clean room at Lockheed Martin in April 2016 after testing was completed.

It's 34 days until the scheduled launch of the University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission and the scientists heading the mission are getting excited.

At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the spacecraft for the mission going to the asteroid named Bennu is undergoing finishing touches.

The UA’s Dante Lauretta is the mission’s principal investigator, also known as the P.I., and its top scientist. He’s monitoring every step.

“We have a fantastic spacecraft with no issues. Everything is behaving exactly as expected,” he said.

Lauretta said he has few worries except making sure the guests coming to watch have a good view.

MORE: Arizona-Built Cameras Play Major Role In NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission

“If the P.I. of OSIRIS-REx is worried about where the guests will be on launch day, then the mission is in really good shape,” he said.

Preparations for launch are continuing apace.

“This week for the spacecraft, we installed the solar arrays for the final time, which is the last mechanical installation on the spacecraft,” Lauretta said.

The team got the OK to fuel the craft Aug. 11. OSIRIS-REX’s launch window opens Sept. 8.

More About The Mission

Sara Hammond has an extensive background in journalism as well as corporate communication. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s (UA) School of Journalism, Hammond interned at the Tucson Citizen and, after graduation, spent 10 years reporting for the Portland Press Herald in Maine.