LITTLETON, Colo. - Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Lilttleton has been given the go-ahead by NASA to build a spacecraft that will rendezvous with an asteroid in 2018.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx program will be the first U.S. mission sent to a near-Earth asteroid to collect and return samples, according to Lockheed Martin.
"We have now completed the spacecraft design and are transitioning into fabrication as we prepare for the assembly, test and launch operations phase of the mission," said Rich Kuhns, program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft, the sampling and Earth-return system, and perform spacecraft mission operations.
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2016, rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and spend a year of reconnaissance at the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx will then collect a sample of at least 2 ounces (60 grams) and return it to Earth for scientists to study in 2023.