UnNews:NASA spacecraft losing payload

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24 October 2020

This is Osiris-Rex before NASA acquired it and refitted it for space travel.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Material that NASA sent a satellite 200 million miles to retrieve seems to be falling out before it can be brought back to Earth.

The spacecraft named Osiris-Rex is in the middle of a seven-year mission to journey to the asteroid Benny, shovel up some dirt, and bring it back to Earth, so that NASA scientists can speculate on the creation of the solar system. These speculations will replace the current set, though they will be unprovable without costly additional flights.

Osiris-Rex — hyphenated names are pretty common at NASA, though its "preferred pronouns" are not known — used to be an ice cream truck (pictured) before NASA adapted it to interplanetary travel. The scoop plowed into the surface of Benny as it used to probe five-gallon barrels of tutti-frutti, retrieving dirt from the asteroid, not that there isn't plenty of dirt on this planet that takes its name from the stuff. Unfortunately, as Osiris-Rex backed away from Benny, cameras showed some of the stuff floating into space.

The mission's lead scientist, Dante Lauretta, speculates that the material is leaving the spacecraft through the same small side window through which products used to be vended in the craft's former life. "The window was supposed to be slid shut," he said. Unfortunately, that task was delegated to grade-school science students on a field trip to the launch site before the craft was launched in 2016, and they didn't do it right.

The mission seeks to retrieve 2 ounces (60 grams) of asteroid dirt, for which the United States is coughing up $800 million. Returning "empty-handed" will make the mission seem like a costly failure, while returning full of dirt will make it less clear whether the mission is a costly failure.

31 October 2020
UPDATED -- CNN has set a value of a cool $10 quintillion ($10,000,000,000,000,000,000) on the asteroid Benny. The figure derives from the fact that 2 ounces of whatever is on the asteroid is obviously worth $800,000,000 to NASA, which did not exactly pass the hat at the office. CNN's Economics Bureau has calculated that bringing the rest of Benny to Earth (2 ounces at a time) would also give every earth citizen, immigrant, and refugee a job. The calculations were performed by CNN's Economics night shift, as the day shift was busy calculating how many people would vote for whom in next week's U.S. Presidential election.