NASA spacecraft heads off to asteroid to bring back samples - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

NASA spacecraft heads off to asteroid to bring back samples

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A NASA spacecraft is on its way to the space rock Bennu.

The Osiris-Rex explorer rocketed away from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday evening, just before sunset. It was the start of a seven-year quest to the big, black, unexplored asteroid. Once there, the spacecraft will gather a few handfuls of gravel for return to Earth.

These bite-size bits of ancient space rock -- due here in 2023 if all goes well -- could hold clues to the origin of life.

Thousands gathered to witness the evening launch of Osiris-Rex, a robotic hunter resembling a bird. It took flight atop an Atlas V (five) rocket. Among the well-wishers: Mike Puzio, the 12-year-old North Carolina boy who won a contest to name the asteroid.
 

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