B9/S25 - Stacked
SpaceX today stacked Ship 25 on top of Booster 9 as preparations for Integrated Flight Test #2 proceed. This the first stacking with the new vented interstage for hot staging and it seemed like they were being a bit slower than the last time I watched one. SpaceX pretty much said months ago that Booster 9 and Ship 25 take the next orbital test flight and while it's not going to be this week, the possibility remains that it could be this month. As has been the case for a while, that depends on how fast the FAA and other bureaucrats move.
Screen capture from Lab Padre's Rover 2.0 Camera
I expect they'll start verifying that nothing was messed up in moving by cryo
testing, then do a full fueling load and drain, followed by either a full wet
dress rehearsal or an actual static firing test.
NASA Prepares for Meteor Sample to Arrive at Earth
I can't say the return to Earth of the sample because it has never been here (unless something really weird is going on), but the meteor sample return mission OSIRIS-REx is due to return to Earth on September 24.
The mission, Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, launched back in September 2016 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V to begin its journey to the near-Earth asteroid and after a 2-year trip through space arrived in orbit around Bennu in December 2018.
The orbiter proceeded to study the asteroid for nearly 2 more years, searching for a proper site to conduct its touch-and-go landing in order to collect a viable sample of the asteroid. After a thorough scan of the celestial body, sometimes orbiting less than a mile above the surface, NASA selected its location and commanded the orbiter to lower itself to the surface for the sample.
It seems like just the other day we were talking about the mission to Bennu and the involvement of astrophysicist Brian May, better known as the virtuoso guitarist of British rock group Queen, as well as designer of a line of electric guitars bearing his name.
More details at the first link in this section, but the mission had a goal of collecting a roughly 2 ounce sample of the meteor to bring to Earth, but after measurements, they determined they had at least 8 ounces of regolith from Bennu, according to Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator on the mission, whom we met at the second link. Something we didn't talk about is that this is not the end of the OSIRIS-REx mission. It will pass by earth, and literally drop off the sample return payload before heading off to its next target.
Teams will conduct a go/no go poll prior to the Sample Return Capsules release from the orbiter, and if for some reason a no is given, they won’t have a chance to recover the sample until 2025 after a risky trip near the Sun.
Once a go is given, the capsule will be released from the orbiter 4 hours before the scheduled re-entry. The capsule will hit the atmosphere at 27,000 miles per hour, followed by a parachute being deployed and a soft touchdown at 10 miles per hour. The orbiter will perform a maneuver after release so it doesn’t enter the atmosphere and will undertake a brand new mission to study the asteroid Apophis.
Ground teams in Utah have been training intensively for their recovery mission.
And, seriously, how long does it take and how much does it cost to come up with an acronym/mission name like OSIRIS-REx?