Nasa’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is set to attempt to collect a sample from the surface of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.  

OSIRIS-REx is an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security and Regolith Explorer.

The mission will enable scientists to investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

The departure window for OSIRIS-REx to return to Earth is set for March 2021.

Aerojet Rocketdyne has powered the spacecraft’s propulsion system with 28 engines.

The OSIRIS-REx propulsion suite comprises of four 60lbf MR-107S, six 5lbf MR-106L, 16 1lbf MR-111G, and two 0.1lbf MR-401.

The company’s engines were delivered to spacecraft prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president Eileen Drake said: “The sample collection portion of the mission requires our engines to perform with extremely high precision with no room for error.

“From the ultra-low-thrust engines that fine-tune the spacecraft’s orbit, to the higher thrust engines that will propel OSIRIS-REx back to Earth, each of the 28 Aerojet Rocketdyne engines on the spacecraft is critical to the success of the mission.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne developed all the engines at its facility in Redmond, Washington.

Besides the propulsion system, the company will also extend support in the OSIRIS-REx mission launch vehicle’s first and second stages.

As part of this mission, American industrial conglomerate Teledyne Technologies has provided the digital ‘eyes’ for the mission.

Teledyne CCD image sensors are designed to capture visible images of the asteroid.

In May, Nasa contracted Aerojet Rocketdyne to produce additional Space Launch System (SLS) RS-25 rocket engines.