One Rehearsal Away from Touching Asteroid Bennu


Aug. 10, 2020

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx is ready for touchdown on asteroid Bennu. On Aug. 11, the mission will perform its “Matchpoint” rehearsal – the second practice run of the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection event. The rehearsal will be similar to the Apr. 14 “Checkpoint” rehearsal, which practiced the first two maneuvers of the descent, but this time the spacecraft will add a third maneuver, called the Matchpoint burn, and fly even closer to sample site Nightingale – reaching an altitude of approximately 131 ft (40 m) – before backing away from the asteroid.

spacecraft above rocky asteroid terrain

This artist’s rendering shows OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface.

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
 Last Updated: Aug. 10, 2020Editor: Yvette Smith

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Joel O'Bryan
August 11, 2020 2:19 am

The 16 Psyche mission in a few years has my interest. That will be the real gold mine that starts a robotic Gold Rush like we haven’t seen since 1849.

Mission Timeline:
Launch: 2022
Solar electric cruise: 3.5 years
Arrival at (16) Psyche: 2026
Observation Period: 21 months in orbit, mapping and studying Psyche’s properties

Mission Events
2022 – Launch of Psyche spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
2023 – Mars Flyby of Psyche spacecraft
2026 – Psyche spacecraft arrives in asteroid’s orbit
2026-2027 – Psyche spacecraft orbits the Psyche asteroid

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 11, 2020 2:37 am

Imagine a cubic kilometer of pure core metal cut from this asteroid and eliver to GEO.
Nickel 60%
Iron 25%
Chrome 5 %
Silver 2%
Vanadium 2%
Molybdenum 2%
Copper 2%
Titanium 1%
Everything else 1%

De-orbit/Drop 6 tonne cut-blocks of that into the shallow Bay of Carpentaria for recovery by robotic divers and barges.
No more mining on Earth for those minerals.

Pete of Perth
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 11, 2020 3:09 am

The Greenies will attempt put a stop to it.

Chris Nelli
Reply to  Pete of Perth
August 13, 2020 10:11 pm

Yep, will need an environmental permit.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 11, 2020 6:29 am

The cost of the mission will exceed the value of the metal.
What doesn’t vaporize during re-entry will be vaporized by the collision with the earth.

The value of such metals exists in orbit, not because the metals themselves are valuable, but because lifting anything from the earth costs a lot.

Another point is that even if you could get the cube down intact, adding that much material to the world’s economies will suppress the value of those materials.

Reply to  MarkW
August 11, 2020 7:22 am

Look on the bright side it would offset the 55000000Kg the Earth currently loses per year and if your a greentard there is no price too high to keep earth exactly stable.

Steven Fraser
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 12, 2020 7:35 pm

No need to de-orbit it. Use it in orbit for construction.

August 11, 2020 2:24 am

OSIRIS-REx is expected to bring back just 2 ounces of the asteroid. Must be the most expensive material in the Universe.

Reply to  Javier
August 11, 2020 4:58 am

But it is truly awesome what they are doing. I suspect the spices brought back from the East Indies in the 1400s were viewed the same way but exploration is part of the human condition.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Quilter
August 11, 2020 7:47 am

The sale of spices from Vasco da Gama’s trip to the east Indies brought in 5 times the cost of the expedition, Spice trade was primary, exploration secondary.

Reply to  Javier
August 11, 2020 6:30 am

Information is always valuable.

Fred Horn
August 11, 2020 3:04 am

Hopefully that won’t be because some space alien bacteria has wiped out the planet.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  griff
August 11, 2020 7:24 am

You keep telling us to stop reading The Guardian.

Ron Long
August 11, 2020 3:23 am

With that artists rendering and a chunk of basalt I could scam this deal. Wait for me on Pawn Stars.

Albert H Brand
August 11, 2020 4:59 am

Don’t we have to match speed and vectors with that of earth before we can drop it? It could
take centuries to slow down or speed up and redirect it to match orbit of earth. It might be
Cheaper to mine the oceans. At least they’re nearby.

Reply to  Albert H Brand
August 11, 2020 5:31 am

That’s a great math problem. Might be better to cut it into small blocks and send each one back separately. It’s like towing an iceberg to a location or breaking it up where it is, load the parts of ice on a boat and getting them there much faster. In any case, it is a long distance from there to here.

Reply to  rbabcock
August 11, 2020 7:52 am

Or they could send the blocks via railgun.
Just remember to keep on the good side of those who are managing said railgun…

Dennis Kuzara
Reply to  Yirgach
August 11, 2020 8:52 pm

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

Reply to  Albert H Brand
August 11, 2020 8:04 am

“Don’t we have to match speed and vectors with that of earth”
No. Actually, the more energy the better. You just have to pick an appropriate point for a high energy landing.
My suggestion would be Washington DC.
I am sure others here can offer up additional useful drop areas.

Reply to  TonyL
August 13, 2020 11:20 am

Midway between Portland and Seattle.

August 11, 2020 9:13 am

Manufacture the asteroid once in GEO to LEO, into a flatter 500 ton wing shape, make a crude one time heat shield out of some of the asteroid materials to absorb some of the initial heat of re-entry and ‘glide’ the 500 tons of nickel/iron/metals to a successful crash landing site, probably in shallow water somewhere. Will glide like a lead ballon, but it will arrive intact and will supply a lot of metal if even one a day arrives. Recover and process as per normal refining methods. Once we can robotically harvest these space based metal resources, we will have a near infinite supply of the metals we will require for centuries to come and most mining on the good Earth will no longer be necessary. There is no shortage of raw materials and energy in our own ‘back yard’ once we can master space with robots, which in a 100 years will be common. The future is so bright, we gonna have to wear shades.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Earthling2
August 11, 2020 2:00 pm

The Gulf of Carpentaria is a good choice. 5-6 tonne blocks cut by robots from a large piece in the rough shape of a blunt teardrop with a phenolic cap placed on the nose to limit metal loses.

Precision radars and cinetheodolite lidars could track each one’s precise impact location in a 10 km x 40 km recovery box, and then robotic barges and cranes with scoops would lift them off the shallow sea floor to bring them ashore.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 11, 2020 6:57 pm

Joel O’Bryan
August 11, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Sounds like a good plan but the Greens will never wear it…think of the fish! Hang on…they don’t seem to be too concerned about bird choppers do they!

August 12, 2020 8:22 am

Hmm, couldn’t find any news, even from the NASA site, about this “rehearsal” supposedly done yesterday. I guess NASA is more focused on their muslim-outreach program.

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