NASA and Lockheed Martin have confirmed that the OSIRIS-REx space probe has reached the asteroid Bennu. From its orbit, at a distance of about 5 kilometers (a bit more than 3 miles), it will start studying its surface creating a map over the course of about a year and a half. This will allow NASA scientists not only to get to know it better but also to choose the most suitable area to proceed with the next phase of the mission, which will consist of taking samples from Bennu’s surface to be returned to Earth.
At a press conference, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the new plans for the return to the Moon with the inclusion of a number of private companies that will have the chance to provide their services to send various types of payload. The program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) could start as early as 2019 and represents a first step towards a long-term goal, that is to establish a permanent presence on the Moon with an eye to Mars.
NASA has confirmed that its InSight lander has landed on Mars after completing a procedure that’s fully automated as radio signals from Mars take just over eight minutes to reach the Earth in this period. InSight was launched on May 5, 2018. Unlike other landers and rovers, it will study the red planet’s interior to better understand its composition and its geological history.
The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, launched last Saturday, November 17, has just reached the International Space Station and was captured by Canadarm2 robotic arm. Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, assisted by her colleague Alexander Gerst, will soon begin the slow maneuver to move the Cygnus until it docks with the Station’s Unity node after about two hours.
A little while ago Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), part of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage went en route to its destination. This is its tenth official mission, called NG-10 but also CRS NG-10, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.