Lockheed Martin will start building a spacecraft that NASA will use to collect particles from a near-Earth asteroid and return those samples to the planet for analysis.
An independent review panel has validated Lockheed’s design plan for the spacecraft, instruments and ground system under NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer program, Lockheed said Thursday.
“Passing critical design review is a significant milestone in our program,” said Rich Kuhns, a program manager at Lockheed’s space systems segment.
“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,” Kuhns added.
NASA is scheduled to launch the OSIRIS-REx in fall 2016 for the agency’s first asteroid sample return mission.
Lockheed says NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the program and is responsible for systems engineering, safety and mission assurance.