At 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, navigation data from the
Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft indicates NEAR
has achieved orbit around asteroid 433 Eros.

At 10:33 a.m., with Eros about 203 miles (327
kilometers) below, NEAR’s small hydrazine thrusters
fired for 57 seconds, slowing the spacecraft’s approach
to walking speed and easing it into the asteroid’s weak
gravitational pull. The rendezvous took place about 160
million miles (256 million kilometers) from Earth.

“NEAR is now the first spacecraft to successfully lock
into orbit around an asteroid,” says Mission Director
Dr. Robert Farquhar, from the NEAR Mission Operations
Center at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
“We’re making history here today.”

Over the next 24 hours, instrument data and pictures of
the asteroid taken after the orbit insertion burn will
provide more details about NEAR’s precise position
around Eros. The first orbit images from NEAR are
expected this afternoon.