NASA's first asteroid sample on track for Sunday parachute landing in Utah
A NASA space capsule carrying a sample of rocky material plucked from the surface of an asteroid three years ago hurtled toward Earth this weekend headed for a fiery plunge through the atmosphere and a parachute landing in the Utah desert on Sunday.
NASA officials said at a news briefing on Friday, weather forecasts were favorable and the robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx was on course to release the sample-return capsule for final descent as planned, with no further adjustments to its flight path needed, .
Mission managers are expecting a "spot-on" touchdown on the U.S. military's vast Utah Test and Training range, west of Salt Lake City, said Sandra Freund, program manager at Lockheed Martin, which designed and built the spacecraft.
The round, gumdrop-shaped capsule is scheduled to land by parachute at 10:55 a.m. EDT (1455 GMT), about 13 minutes after streaking into the top of the atmosphere at roughly 35 times the speed of sound, capping a seven-year voyage.