Redmond-based company involved in NASA asteroid-impact mission

Redmond-based company Aerojet Rocketdyne has designed the propulsion system for a rocket that will crash into an asteroid; but don’t worry, this asteroid won’t be threatening Earth.

NASA’s DART mission is a planetary defense test mission aiming to deliberately crash into an asteroid to test a spacecraft’s ability to hit and deflect potentially hazardous objects in space.

Aerojet Rocketdyne built the engines and propulsion for a rocket that will hit a small asteroid orbiting a larger one.

“The dinosaurs went extinct because they didn’t have a space program,” joked Joe Cassady, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Executive Director for Space in the company’s Washington operations. “We’ll have the potential to save humanity. How could you not get excited about that?”

This will be the first time NASA has demonstrated using a spacecraft for asteroid deflection. If the mission is successful, Aerojet Rocketdyne could potentially provide support with future missions.

The rocket launches at 10:21 p.m. Tuesday evening and is expected to spend 10 months traveling to the pair of asteroids.