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Rocket Lab will try splashdown recovery on the way to dramatic midair grab

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The booster will deploy a parachute on its return to Earth.


Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab is following in the footsteps of SpaceX by going to some pretty dramatic lengths to recycle its rockets.

The startup with facilities in the US and New Zealand will attempt to recover the first-stage booster from one of its Electron rockets for the first time during a mission set for Nov. 15.

After boosting a number of small satellites toward orbit for the mission, appropriately dubbed Return to Sender, the first stage will separate and head to a controlled soft water landing in the Pacific Ocean using parachutes. From there, the floating rocket will be retrieved by a recovery vessel. 

Recovering a rocket using parachutes is hardly a new concept. It’s something NASA has pursued in the not-too-distant past. And

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NASA spacecraft sent asteroid rubble flying in sample grab

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft crushed rocks and sent rubble flying as it briefly touched an asteroid, a strong indication that samples were collected for return to Earth, officials said Wednesday.

Scientists won’t know until next week how much was gathered at asteroid Bennu — they want at least a handful of the cosmic rubble. But close-up pictures and video of Tuesday’s touch-and-go operation raised hopes that goal was achieved.

“We really did kind of make a mess on the surface of this asteroid, but it’s a good mess, the kind of mess we were hoping for,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona at Tucson.

It was the first asteroid-sampling effort by the U.S., coming four years after the spacecraft rocketed from Cape Canaveral and two years after it reached Bennu. Japan has taken asteroid samples twice.

The carbon-rich Bennu is a time

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx just tried to grab a piece of the asteroid Bennu

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is a cosmic rock collector. Cheers erupted from mission control at 6:12 p.m. EDT on October 20 as scientists on Earth got word that the spacecraft had gently nudged a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu, and grabbed some of its rocks to return to Earth.

“The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do,” said mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona in Tucson on a NASA TV webcast. “I can’t believe we actually pulled this off.”

OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu in December 2018, and spent almost two years making detailed maps of the 500-meter-wide asteroid’s surface features and composition (SN: 10/8/20). Observations from Earth suggested Bennu should be smooth and sandy, but when OSIRIS-REx arrived, it found a treacherous, rocky landscape.

The team selected a relatively smooth patch in a crater named Nightingale. The spot was not without hazards, though — the

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OSIRIS-REx probe touches down to grab bits of an asteroid

OSIRIS-REx probe
An artist’s conception shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe lowering its sample collection arm to the surface of the asteroid Bennu. (Lockheed Martin Illustration)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe reached the climax of its seven-year round trip to deep space today and briefly touched down on a near-Earth asteroid, propelled by thrusters made in the Seattle area.

Scientists and engineers at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Support Area in Colorado received word at 4:12 p.m. MT (3:12 p.m. PT) that the touch-and-go maneuver at asteroid Bennu was successful, sparking cheers and fist-shaking. The maneuver was aimed at collecting samples of dust and gravel on the asteroid’s surface.

Mission team members wore masks and tried to observe social distancing as a COVID-19 safety measure, but some hugged nevertheless.

“I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” said the University of Arizona’s Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for the mission. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do.”

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US spacecraft touches asteroid surface for rare rubble grab

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft descended to an asteroid Tuesday and, dodging boulders the size of buildings, momentarily touched the surface to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for return to Earth.

It was a first for the United States — only Japan has scored asteroid samples.

“Touchdown declared,” a flight controller announced to cheers and applause. “Sampling is in progress.”

Confirmation came from the Osiris-Rex spacecraft as it made contact with the surface of the asteroid Bennu more than 200 million miles away. But it could be a week before scientists know how much, if much of anything, was grabbed and whether another try will be needed. If successful, Osiris-Rex will return the samples in 2023.

“I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do.”

Osiris-Rex took 4

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully taps an asteroid in attempt to a grab sample

This afternoon, a NASA spacecraft more than 200 million miles from Earth successfully touched the surface of an asteroid, in an attempt to grab a handful of pebbles and dust from the space rock. Data from the spacecraft confirmed that the vehicle did indeed touch the asteroid today, but NASA won’t know until tomorrow if it actually snagged a sample of material.

“Touchdown declared,” a mission controller announced when the team received data of the maneuver. “Sampling in process.” The news of the success was met with cheers and claps from engineers following along with the process.

The spacecraft that just tapped the asteroid is OSIRIS-REx, and this sampling maneuver has been years in the making. The main purpose of the spacecraft is to bring a pristine sample of an asteroid back to Earth, so that scientists can study the material in a lab. Asteroids are considered to be primordial

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US spacecraft diving to asteroid for rare rubble grab

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft descended Tuesday toward the surface of an asteroid 200 million miles away to collect a handful of rubble for return to Earth.

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft dropped out of orbit around asteroid Bennu right on time, beginning a 4 1/2-hour plunge to the rough, boulder-covered face of the ancient space rock.

It was America’s first attempt to gather samples from an asteroid, something already accomplished by Japan — twice.

Bennu’s gravity was too low for the spacecraft to land — the asteroid is just 1,670 feet (510 meters) across. As a result, Osiris-Rex has to reach out with its 11-foot (3.4-meter) robot arm while dodging boulders the size of buildings, and attempt to grab at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of Bennu.

It promised to be the most harrowing part of the mission, which began with a launch from Cape Canaveral back in

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