It’s time to visit a fossil in space. Today at 7:05 p.m. Eastern, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its two-year journey to the asteroid Bennu. Scientists hope to gather dust and gravel from the dark space rock and bring it back to Earth — marking the largest sample return since the Apollo missions, roughly half a century ago.
An hour after launch, after a series of rocket burns, OSIRIS-REx was flying free and traveling faster than 22,000 mph.
“This was superb to watch,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said as he congratulated the team assembled at Cape Canaveral.