Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx mission, the first mission to sample an asteroid, was launched from Cape Canaveral on September 8. The launching rocket, an Atlas V 411, reached supersonic speed (video @ 01:10).
Scheduled to arrive at its destination, asteroid Bennu, in 2018, OSIRIS-REx will
- arrive at asteroid Bennu in August 2018, after orbiting the Sun for a year
- survey & map the asteroid for a whole year to allow scientists to determine the best spot to
- sample te surface (for 5 seconds) without landing using a robotic arm that will tap the surface fr 5 seconds and collect three samples (totaling 16 grams) from the ejected material,
- store the sample in a special canister within a capsule,
- return journey back starting March 2021 when the return window will open
- arrive to Earth’s orbit by September 2023 and release the sample capsule to make its entry into Earth and be collected for studying its constituents
The animation below by the Agence Spatiale Canadienne shows how OSIRIS-REx will do that.