A NASA spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, launched September 8th in an effort to learn more about the formation of our solar system. OSIRIS-REx—an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer—will travel to near Earth asteroid Bennu and retrieve a sample that might offer insights into the history of our solar system and perhaps the origins of life. Led by the University of Arizona and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, this is NASA’s third mission in its New Frontiers program.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems designed and built the spacecraft, as well as the sampling system and sample return capsule. The solar powered mission led Lockheed Martin to choose a reliable source to power the spacecraft. EaglePicher’s batteries power the return capsule with two, 8-cell lithium batteries as well as the main spacecraft battery, with two identical 28-volt, 30-ampere-hour batteries with integrated battery management electronics and heaters necessary for operation in the cold extremes of space. In addition to the spacecraft and return capsule, EaglePicher also supplied Silver Zinc batteries for the on-board electronics of the Atlas V launch vehicle–used to launch OSIRIS-REx–powering multiple systems including flight termination, telemetry, guidance control, and tracking.

OSIRIS-REx is a seven-year mission, and will be the first ever in the U.S. to carry a sample back from an asteroid for analysis.. Once the spacecraft intercepts Bennu in 2018, it will spend two years mapping the surface to determine its properties. Then in 2020, OSIRIS-REx will collect a sample of the asteroid by emitting a burst of nitrogen onto the surface to collect regolith inside the TAGSAM (the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism). After sampling is done, the TAGSAM head will then be stowed inside the return capsule. The spacecraft will begin its return flight to Earth in 2021. In September 2023, as the spacecraft nears Earth, it will eject the sample return capsule and then divert away from Earth.  The sample return capsule will enter the Earth’s atmosphere at just over 27,000 mph. The capsule is programmed to deploy its parachutes and land softly in the Utah desert, where it will then be transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center for curation and distribution of the sample to laboratories around the world for generations of scientific analysis.

As a leading battery manufacturer with a strong history of supplying U.S. military and aerospace needs, EaglePicher is proud to provide the Lithium and Silver Zinc batteries for this mission.  This craft adds to a long list of no-fail missions and demonstrates EaglePicher’s ability to power the most important missions with ease. EaglePicher has been supplying Silver Zinc batteries since the beginning of the space age back in the early 1950s

About EaglePicher Technologies, LLC

EaglePicher Technologies, LLC, a VECTRA company, has been a leading producer of batteries and energetic devices for more than one hundred years, currently serving the defense, aerospace, and medical industries. The company provides unmatched experience and capability in battery electrochemistry. EaglePicher also provides custom battery assemblies, battery management systems, pyrotechnic devices and custom power solutions. EaglePicher Technologies is headquartered in St. Louis, MO., and is ISO9001:2008 and AS9100C certified. For more information, visit www.eaglepicher.com.


VECTRA is a technology-driven diversified industrial company serving attractive global markets, including automotive systems, electronic devices, aerospace and defense, industrial and medical. Its business platforms use technology to address customers’ complex applications and demanding requirements. For more information, visit the Company’s website at www.vectraco.com.