Ewen Whitaker, Gerard Kuiper and NASA engineer Ray Heacock

In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, lunar and planetary science was still in its infancy. Its birthplace? The University of Arizona.

Since its launch on Sept. 8, 2016, OSIRIS-REx has spent two and a half years catching up with asteroid Bennu on its orbit around the sun. The spacecraft’s arrival at Bennu on Dec. 3, 2018, marked a major milestone, with the mission transitioning from flying toward the asteroid to orbiting around it.

Picture yourself hitchhiking on a history-making, seven-year space mission. 

You departed on Sept. 8, 2016. Your vehicle, called OSIRIS-REx, has solar panels for electricity. On your trip, you can share photos taken with the world’s finest set of space cameras, all made at the UA.

It was the summer of 1963 when Dick and June Scobee and their 2-year-old daughter Kathie arrived at a red-brick rental house on Mountain Avenue. The location was convenient: Dick could walk the five blocks to his aerospace engineering classes. From those classes, Scobee embarked on a long trajectory into space, where the United States needed him to help catch up with the Russians. 

It’s no secret that planet Earth has a trash problem. What’s less well-known is the man-made debris orbiting our planet — discarded rocket parts, satellite antennas and other metal scraps hurtling through space at 17,500 mph. These objects are missiles in the making, and a collision could jeopardize everything from GPS satellites to the International Space Station. 


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