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Aerospace Merger: ATK Joins With Orbital Sciences Corp 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the drumming-up-competition-for-spacex dept.
FullBandwidth writes: "Two Virginia aerospace players, Arlington-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Dulles-based Orbital Sciences, are merging to create a $5 billion venture. The companies announced the merger in a joint announcement Tuesday. ATK is also spinning off its lucrative hunting gear segment into a separate company. 'The move is mutually beneficial, company executives said, as ATK looks to bolster its aerospace business and Orbital Sciences hopes to boost the scale of its existing operations as well as gain a foothold in the defense sector. ... Another beneficiary of the merger is NASA, a client of both companies. Last year, Orbital successfully completed a supply run to the international space station using its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. Orbital’s expansion after the merger will make it a bigger player in the commercial space sector as it competes with the likes of SpaceX, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company, said Howard Rubel, an equity research analyst at Jefferies.'"
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Aerospace Merger: ATK Joins With Orbital Sciences Corp

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  • by Guppy (12314)

    FYI: ATK Launch Systems (formerly known as Thiokol) was the prime contractor for the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster [wikipedia.org], and as far as I know they mostly do solid-type rocket boosters -- which is what they are proposing for the (maybe [wikipedia.org]) upcoming Space Launch System.

    • by strack (1051390)
      ATK needs to stick to missiles and stop fucking up human spaceflight with its dangerous and uncontrollable firecrackers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ATK needs to stick to missiles and stop fucking up human spaceflight with its dangerous and uncontrollable firecrackers.

        I worked in engineering at Kennedy Space Center when the Challenger disaster occurred. I was
        on site that day.

        Thikol engineers actually cautioned against the launch of the shuttle due to the unusually cold ambient temperature
        at the launch site.

        It was NASA which made the final decision to launch, and the decision was made against the recommendations of
        some NASA staff as well as engineers from Thikol. So the fault for the events which followed the launch
        really lies with the NASA decision-makers who chose to ta

        • Thikol engineers actually cautioned against the launch of the shuttle due to the unusually cold ambient temperature at the launch site.

          That doesn't excuse the design flaws inherent in the shuttle system. Solid rockets cannot be shut down or controlled. Once they're lit, they're lit. In the event of a catastrophe, the only way to control a solid rocket is to "unzip" it, explosive charges run the entire length of the rocket and spew it's flaming guts all over the place. The only safe place to be is in front of a solid, but even that isn't safe. When the Jupiter Direct launch system was being designed, the engineers discovered that the e

          • by Megane (129182)
            The real design flaw was putting the crew vehicle to the side of the SRBs with no escape rocket mechanism. All this came about because of the military side of the requirements for Shuttle, which were important so that it could have enough "customers" to make it worth the trouble of building such an elephant. But now they have the X37B for their black ops, and nobody with a clue wants the Shuttle design back.
            • I was watching a video [youtube.com] of a shuttle launch last night, and I was thinking, from the time of ignition to the point where the shuttle was moving fast enough to generate lift, there is no way to safely abort. Then, as the video progressed, it mentioned that the shuttle had to wait until the SRBs had jettisoned before it could perform the RTLS (Return to Launch Site) abort. The earliest abort opportunity was two and a half minutes after ignition of the SRBs. Two and a half minutes! No pad abort. No ejectio
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Thikol engineers actually cautioned against the launch of the shuttle due to the unusually cold ambient temperature at the launch site.

          It was in the documentation, also. NASA had everything on paper that they needed to know that it was an unsafe opportunity for launch. They took it anyway.

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        As a shooter, I'd more appreciate it if they could magically build yet another ammo plant and crank out more 22 ammo...

        (ATK owns both Federal and CCI)

  • 1st of all, neither one of these companies is what would be called a major player in the space launch industry, even though both do get involved at a significant level. I would dare say both companies had a foot in the grave and could disappear if this merger didn't happen.

    Also, neither company seems to be in direct competition with each other in terms of the various parts of the space launch areas that they have concentrated on. ATK is more into military sales (especially missiles and military munitions in general) and of course the solid rocket boosters, including the SRBs that the Space Shuttle used. Orbital has experience with liquid fueled rockets and working with commercial spaceflight customers in particular, including satellite construction (their main profit area). ATK has been losing its military business for some time, so they are in desperate need to change course and especially get into the commercial spaceflight area... something that obviously Orbital has a lot of experience in working with.

    While this merger still shocks me that it is happening, I see huge benefits for both Orbital and ATK if this is completed. The combined company will definitely be in a position to challenge SpaceX in a number of ways and can definitely blow out of the water anything produced by United Launch Alliance (ULA). ATK has the raw capital and some substantial physical assets that could definitely build upon everything Orbital has been doing.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Subject: Pretty reasonable merger [...] While this merger still shocks me that it is happening

      Which is it? Is it reasonable, or are you shocked? (Shocked, I tell you!)

      • It can be both. It'd be reasonable for politicians from all parties to work together harmoniously to enrich the lives of all their countrymen, and ensure peace, justice, and unlimited rice pudding for all, but I'd be shocked if it happened.

    • by Megane (129182)
      tl;dr: it sounds like a good match, which is what I think, too.
  • Solid rockets ala the shuttle still have their place -- with heavy lifting of cargo into space. They are relatively cheap and can be reused. However if SpaceX is able to succeed in returning their rockets to the pad and is able to scale that ability up to it's heavy lifting proposals nothing this orbital-ATK company has proposed will come close to SpaceX's price.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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