Today, September 8th, 2016, marks the scheduled launch date for one of the newest NASA space probes, OSIRIS-REx. This craft is planned to study the asteroid 101955 Bennu, and eventually return a sample of it for study back on Earth. This is quite the ambitious mission, and follows many successful materials return missions dating back to unmanned lunar probes in the 1960’s, comet sample return missions in the 2000’s, and more.
The launch vehicle for this mission is an Atlas V 411 configuration, which uses a single engine Centaur upper stage along with 1 solid rocket booster for the 1st stage. The physics of a single booster elude me, but this is a standard configuration which has proven reliable, so I won’t question it here. What I will do, in Xadara tradition, is share the mission profile video for the Atlas V booster. It looks to be a pretty typical launch, but at the same time, no launch is typical, and every one is exciting to me.