SpaceX explosion reminds OSIRIS team of risks

The team launching a mission to return at least 2.1 ounces of dirt from a near-Earth asteroid received a bit of a jolt last week when a SpaceX rocket set for its own launch exploded on a Florida launch pad.

But the disaster touched off a review of the launch pad and other areas surrounding the pad where the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will launch Thursday, a program manager for United Launch Alliance said Tuesday.

Scott Messer, ULA’s program manager for NASA missions, said SpaceX’s setback did not pose a risk to the Atlas V rocket, which was at its launchpad set to carry OSIRIS into space when the explosion happened.

“Our teams did an extensive walk through on the pad area and the (vehicle integration facility),” said Messer, whose company is a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. “The Atlas V vehicle was safely buttoned up and secure inside the VIF.”