Aerojet Rocketdyne is the sole propulsion provider for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, providing all 28 rocket engines aboard and supporting the mission every step of the way.
May 10, 2021 – The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is traveling millions of miles to bring back the first ever asteroid sample to Earth! The two-plus year journey back to Earth began for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on May 10, and it will rely on Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion as part of its return cruise.
OSIRIS-REx executed its sample collection of asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20, 2020. By studying the surface material collected on asteroid Bennu, we will learn more about the formation of our solar system and the composition of other near-Earth objects.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is the sole propulsion provider for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, providing all 28 rocket engines aboard. The return phase of the mission requires the firing of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s MR-107S thrusters to change OSIRIS-REx’s velocity by 595 mph, placing the spacecraft on a trajectory that intersects the orbit of Earth Sept. 24, 2023. The final maneuver will involve steering the spacecraft away from Earth after the sample re-entry capsule has been jettisoned and placing the spacecraft into a stable orbit around the Sun.
“Our engines will have enabled OSIRIS-REx’s mission from start to finish. From helping to lift the launch vehicle off the ground, to surveying the asteroid and collecting the sample, to ensuring the sample is returned safely to Earth, Aerojet Rocketdyne is there every step of the way,” said Jim Maser, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Sr. Vice President of Space.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, equipped with a full suite of Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion.
OSIRIS-REx‘s propulsion suite includes a variety of Aerojet Rocketdyne thrusters, including: four 60-lbf MR-107S, six 5-lbf MR-106L, 16 1-lbf MR-111G, and two 0.1-lbf MR-401. While only the MR-107S engines will be used for the trip home, the rest of the thrusters played critical roles in other mission elements up to this point. All 28 engines on OSIRIS-REx were developed at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility in Redmond, Washington.
NASA launched OSIRIS-REx on Sept. 8, 2016, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch vehicle also employed Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion, including a single AJ-60A solid rocket motor, an RL10C-1 Centaur upper stage engine, and a dozen MR-106 reaction control thrusters on the Centaur upper stage. The Atlas V also employed six of the company’s pressurized Helium tanks.
Check out the below video to learn more about the extensive suite of Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion that enabled the OSIRIS-REx mission every step of the way.