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ExoLance
NASA selects asteroid sample return mission
Posted: Thu, May 26, 2011, 6:20 AM ET (1020 GMT)
OSIRIS-REx spacecraft illustration (NASA) NASA announced Wednesday that it will launch a robotic mission in 2016 to fly to a near Earth asteroid and return a sample to Earth. The Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission will be the third in NASA's New Frontier program of mid-range planetary science missions. OSIRIS-REx will launch in 2016 to fly to asteroid 1999 RQ36, rendezvousing with it in 2020. The spacecraft will survey the asteroid for about six months, then approach the surface and extend a sample arm, which will collect as much as two kilograms of regolith. That sample will be returned to Earth in a capsule landing in Utah in 2023. The total cost of the mission, including launch, is estimated to be $1 billion. OSIRIS-REx beat out proposals for missions to the Moon and Venus for the New Frontiers selection.
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