The US space probe OSIRIS-REx has managed to collect enough material from a space rock nearly 333 million kilometers from Earth.

The rock and dust samples are neatly stored so that the probe can return home, according to the US space agency NASA on Thursday.

Last Wednesday, after four years of flying and other preparation, the probe scraped 400 grams of soil dust from the asteroid Bennu with a kind of vacuum cleaner hose.

It is located 333 million kilometers from the earth.

In comparison, the Moon is located about 385,000 kilometers from Earth.

The distance to this asteroid is therefore about 865 times greater.

Over the weekend, however, it turned out that a valve of the probe had opened, creating fears that the stuff had been lost.

That appears not to be the case now.

"We are here to announce that we have successfully completed the operation," said project manager Rich Burns on Thursday.

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NASA probe mines pristine asteroid rocks for the first time

OSIRIS-REx is allowed to return home

Because the OSIRIS-REx has secured much more soil debris than the minimum required 60 grams, the probe can turn around and return to Earth, expected in 2023.

The mission costs about $ 1 billion.