Employees at the Redmond campus of Aerojet celebrated the company's role in Sunday's landing of a NASA spacecraft on Mars.

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To the growing list of occasions that call out for ice cream, add this:

Helping to land a spacecraft on Mars.

Some 200 employees at Aerojet’s Redmond campus — most in red T-shirts in honor of the Red Planet — took a break in the afternoon sunshine Monday to celebrate their company’s role in the successful landing of NASA’s Mars Curiosity.

“Curiosity is a good name for it,” said David Moore, a software engineer who’s been with the company nearly 40 years. “There’s always been a curiosity about the search for life on Mars, and this is a quantum leap forward in that search.”

Aerojet, a space-exploration giant headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., provided 48 engines of various sizes — 36 of them made in Redmond — to propel and guide Curiosity on its 354-million-mile journey to Mars.

The engines from Redmond range from 6 inches long to 2 feet. Some helped guide the craft to a crater it will examine for hints of life — present or past.

Jon Schierberl, program manager for the Redmond campus, said “generations to come will mark this as a very big step for mankind.”

Schierberl, with Aerojet for 39 years, said he hopes to live long enough to come back as a retiree to help Aerojet celebrate putting the first astronaut on Mars.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222