THIS WEEK @NASA: First Asteroid Sample Return Mission, Safe Return from International Space Station

By  //  October 25, 2020

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ABOVE VIDEO: A touch of history for our first asteroid sample return mission, a safe return from the International Space Station, and a big move in preparation for Artemis I … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Touches Asteroid Bennu

On Oct. 20 – some 200 million miles from Earth – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft extended its robotic arm, and in a first for the agency, successfully touched asteroid Bennu long enough to collect dust and other surface material to be returned to Earth for study in 2023.

Mission Controllers confirming touchdown:
“And we have touchdown! Touchdown declared! (applause and cheering)”

Bennu contains material from the early solar system that could help researchers learn more about the origins of life on Earth.

Space Station Crew Completes Mission with Safe Return to Earth

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy safely returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Oct. 21, Eastern Time. Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner landed in their Soyuz spacecraft just hours after leaving the station. The landing wrapped up a six-month mission for the trio aboard the orbital outpost.

Mobile Launcher Arrives at Launch Pad 39B for Tests, Preps for Artemis I

On Oct. 20, the mobile launcher that will be used with our Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for Artemis I, was rolled out to Launch Pad 39B at our Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The trek to the pad helped prepare the launch team for the actual launch of Artemis I next year. The mobile launcher will stay at the pad for about two weeks to practice logistics, validate timelines, and for cleaning.

Launch Preparations Continue for New Sea Level Satellite

Preparations continue for the Nov. 10 launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft. The world’s latest ocean-monitoring satellite, named after the late Dr. Michael Freilich, former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, is one of two identical spacecraft that will collect extremely precise sea surface height measurements.

Registration Open for NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge

Registration is underway for NASA’s 27thHuman Exploration Rover Challenge, targeted for April 15-17, 2021. The annual student competition features student-built rovers taking on a course simulating terrain found on the Moon, Mars and other rocky bodies in the solar system. Find out more at

That’s what’s up this week @NASA


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