NASA picks ULA's Atlas V rocket to launch OSIRIS REx asteroid exploration

By: InnovatioNews Wednesday August 7, 2013 0 comments Tags: Atlas V, Denver, Jim Sponnick, NASA, OSIRIS REx

NASA logoDENVER - NASA announced it selected Colorado-based United Launch Alliance's Atlas V vehicle to launch the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS REx) mission - the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth.

"We are honored that NASA has selected ULA to launch this critical mission," said Jim Sponnick, ULA's VP of its Atlas and Delta programs.

"NASA has trusted our highly reliable Atlas V vehicle to launch missions including Pluto New Horizons, Juno and Mars Science Lab, and now Osiris-REx."

The mission is scheduled to launch in 2016 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

"With 39 successful missions spanning a decade of operational service, the commercially developed Atlas V is uniquely qualified to provide launch services for these high-value NASA New Frontier Missions," said Sponnick.

"Atlas V is currently the only launch vehicle certified by NASA to fly the nation's most complex exploration missions."

The OSIRIS REx mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

The mission plan calls for the spacecraft to reach its target asteroid by 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

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