Farewell to Asteroid Bennu
After nearly five years in space, our Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is on its way back to Earth with an abundance of rocks and dust from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

On May 10, the spacecraft fired its main engines at full throttle for seven minutes – its most significant maneuver since it arrived at Bennu in 2018. This burn thrust the spacecraft away from the asteroid at 600 miles per hour, setting it on a 2.5-year cruise towards Earth.
Take a look back at OSIRIS-REx’s time at Bennu –– starting with the Touch-and-Go sample acquisition event from Oct. 20, 2020, and leading up to its departure from the asteroid.
This Week in Space
Next Stop, Space – This week, the golden mirror of the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope – the James Webb Space Telescope – opened for the last time on Earth. This event marked a key milestone in preparing the observatory for launch later this year.
Small Business Investment – We have a long history of supporting America’s entrepreneurs as they develop technology from ideas to commercial readiness. This week, we continue that legacy: we're investing $105 million in 127 small businesses, funding that will help move their innovations to market.
Making Space History – NASA and Axiom Space have signed an order for the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station to take place no earlier than January 2022. Once docked, the Axiom astronauts are scheduled to spend eight days aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Space to Ground – Our human and robotic missions can benefit from a new way of “talking” with Earth. Launching this summer, a new laser communications demo could help make it possible to transmit 10 to 100 times more data back to Earth than current radio frequency systems.
Do NASA Science – Interested in becoming a citizen scientist? Learn how you can help conduct scientific research at CitSciCon, a virtual event with interactive activities taking place May 21-22. The free sessions are open to experienced, new, or aspiring citizen scientists.
Eyes on the Earth – What do marbles, cake baking pans, and satellite data have in common? They’re all key tools in an Earth Science Applications project to track the spread of the fungus that causes Valley fever, which can be carried in dust storms across the southwestern United States.
Leadership UpdatesSteve Jurczyk, who served as our acting administrator from Jan. 20 to May 3, 2021, and associate administrator since May 2018, announced that he will retire this week, after more than three decades of service to the agency.
Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson announced that Robert Cabana will serve as our associate administrator, our third-highest ranking executive, effective May 17. Cabana has served as the director of our Kennedy Space Center since 2008.
People Profile
Remembering Ellison Onizuka Ellison Onizuka was the first Asian American to fly in space. He was a member of NASA's Astronaut Class of 1978, also known as the Thirty-Five New Guys, the first astronaut class in nearly a decade and also the first to include women, Hispanics, Asian, and African Americans.
You may not know it, but a quote from Onizuka is printed on the last page of every U.S. passport. “Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds ... to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.”
On Jan. 28, 1986, Onizuka lost his life when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch.
Image Spotlight
The interaction of two doomed stars has created this spectacular ring adorned with bright clumps of gas ­– a diamond necklace of cosmic proportions. Fittingly known as the “Necklace Nebula,” this planetary nebula is located 15,000 light-years away from Earth.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, K. Noll
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