NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Englewood, Colo. to launch the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft.
The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to launch in September 2016 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
This new firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, launch service task order contract is valued at about $183.5 million. This price includes payload processing, integrated services, telemetry and other launch support requirements.
OSIRIS-REx will survey near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu to understand its physical, mineralogical and chemical properties; assess its resource potential; refine the impact hazard; and return a sample to Earth. The spacecraft will rendezvous with the asteroid in 2018. Sample return is planned in 2023.
Analysis of the sample returned will reveal the earliest stages of the solar system’s evolution and the history of Bennu over the past 4.5 billion years.
OSIRIS-REx also will study the Yarkovsky effect, a non-gravitational force affecting the orbit of this potentially hazardous asteroid, and provide the first direct measurements for telescopic observations of this type of asteroids.
NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for program management of the Atlas V launch vehicle. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., provides overall mission management for OSIRIS-REx.