CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Florida –
Defense Logistics Agency Aerospace Energy supported NASA’s first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid with a launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sep. 8.
DLA Aerospace Energy provided the Atlas 5 rocket’s fuel (RP-1 rocket propellant) and 2,700 pounds of hydrazine required to launch the spacecraft to orbit Asteroid Bennu so it could map and sample the asteroid and retrieve at least two ounces of surface material before returning to Earth.
“It gives me a sense of pride knowing that the hard work of the men and women of DLA Aerospace Energy supports a multi-year space mission to Asteroid Bennu,” said DLA Aerospace Energy Chief of Contracting, Damon Moore.
Bennu is as tall as the Empire State Building, weighs about 60 million tons and is about 4.5 billion years old.
According to NASA officials, the spacecraft uses a mechanical arm to obtain a sample and return it to Earth in about seven years. Bennu is a primitive and carbon-rich asteroid made of material that has not changed significantly since its formation.
Scientists are hoping the organic material found on Bennu will give scientists an inventory of the materials present at the beginning of the solar system that may have had a role in the origin of life on Earth and potentially elsewhere.
“When the sample from Asteroid Bennu is returned to Earth in 2023, it will be exciting to know that the work we do at DLA Aerospace Energy contributed to scientists being able to study material present at the beginning of our solar system,” Moore said.
DLA Aerospace Energy partnered with NASA, Lockheed Martin, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Arizona, the U.S. Air Force and Canberra tracking station in Australia for this complex project.
DLA Aerospace Energy manages the worldwide acquisition of missile fuels, liquid propellants for space launch and satellites, aviator’s breathing oxygen and other bulk industrial chemicals and gases – including nitrogen, oxygen, argon, hydrogen and helium.