JUPITER, Fla--- Thursday night history will be made.
NASA launched a spacecraft with the first-ever mission to take and bring back a sample of an asteroid.
Part of the power behind this mission can be found right here in Palm Beach County.
Aerojet Rockedyne’s West Palm Beach site made the engine that powered the OSIRIS-REx into space.
The spacecraft launched Thursday night from Cape Canaveral. It’s final destination the Bennu Asteroid.
Jim Maus is the Senior Director of Manufacturing and the West Palm Beach site leader for Aerojet Rocketdyne.
The company built the RL10 rocket engine being used to send OSIRIS-REx into space.
The RL10 powers the centaur, which is essentially the part of the rocket that holds the spacecraft.
“We do all the design work here. We procure all the hardware here,” said Maus. “We manufacture it, assemble it, and test it right here.”
RL10 engine has been in use for dacades. Maus says the company prides itself on reliability.
“You have to deliver every time,” said Maus. “As we saw in last week’s event, the consequences of failure are very significant,” said Maus referring to the recent SpaceX rocket explosion.
While this certainly isn’t the first engine the company has built for space travel, being part of such a historic mission certainly launches Aerojet Rocketdyne even higher.
“When it’s a NASA mission, and it gets a lot of publicity and we can talk to our friends and family about what we do, it’s very exciting very and gratifying.”
Some of the other NASA missions that the company has been a part of include the New Horizons Mission to Pluto, and the launching the Curiosity spacecraft which is on Mars right now.