ATK, Orbital Sciences Merger Approved By Shareholders

ATK_LogoShareholders of Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Orbital Sciences Corporation overwhelmingly approved the mergers of the two companies in separate meetings on Tuesday.

In a statement, ATK said approximately 97 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the merger, representing approximately 77 percent of the total outstanding shares of the company’s common stock. Orbital said approximately 99 percent of the votes cast were in favor, representing approximately 85 percent of outstanding shares.


ATK Installs Solid Rocket Booster for March SLS Test

The first qualification motor for NASA's Space Launch System's booster is installed in ATK's test stand in Utah and is ready for a March 11 static-fire test. (Credit:  ATK)
The first qualification motor for NASA’s Space Launch System’s booster is installed in ATK’s test stand in Utah and is ready for a March 11 static-fire test. (Credit:

PROMONTORY, Utah (ATK PR) NASA and ATK (NYSE: ATK) have completed installing the first Space Launch System booster qualification motor, QM-1, in a specialized test stand in Utah. The largest solid rocket motor ever built for flight, QM-1 is now being prepared for its static-fire test, which is scheduled for March 11.

“Testing before flight is critical to ensure reliability and safety when launching crew into space,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of ATK’s Space Launch division. “The QM-1 static test is an important step in further qualifying this new five-segment solid rocket motor for the subsequent planned missions to send astronauts to deep space.”


Year in Review: Launch Industry Disrupted in 2014

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk has long talked about disrupting the launch industry with low prices and technological innovations. In 2014, the impacts of those efforts were felt far and wide as competitors responded to the threat the California company posed to their livelihoods.

ULA Pivots. With SpaceX reeling off one successful launch after another, ULA pivoted on several fronts. One was to announce efforts to significantly reduce costs on its highly reliable but pricey Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. But, even that proved to be insufficient as SpaceX threatened ULA on several fronts.


ATK, NASA to Collaborate on Space Logistics, Transportation

NASA LOGOARLINGTON, Va. (ATK PR) – ATK (NYSE: ATK) and NASA have announced an agreement to support near-term core technologies for space logistics, hosted payloads, and space transportation.

The Space Act Agreement (SAA) allows ATK’s Space Systems division and NASA to collaborate on technologies and new product development that meet the needs of the emerging satellite transport and space logistics industry. The SAA is an unfunded partnership through NASA’s Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities Office at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.


NASA Selects Commercial Space Partners for Collaborative Partnerships

NASA LOGOWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced Tuesday the selection of four U.S. companies to collaborate with NASA through unfunded partnerships to develop new space capabilities available to the government and other customers. The partnerships build on the success of NASA’s commercial spaceflight initiatives to leverage NASA experience and expertise into new capabilities.

The Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC) initiative is designed to advance private sector development of integrated space capabilities through access to NASA’s spaceflight resources and ensure emerging products or services are commercially available to government and non-government customers within approximately the next five years.


Alaska Selects Lockheed Martin for Medium-Lift Launch Deal

Athena rocket
Athena rocket

Alaska Aerospace Corporation has selected Lockheed Martin to launch medium-lift rockets from the Kodiak Launch Complex:

Lockheed Martin beat out three other bidders to reconfigure launch pad one at the Kodiak site, officials with the Alaska Aerospace Corp. said during a news conference in Anchorage.

“It’s is a great day,” said Craig Campbell, the corporation’s CEO and president. “It’s what we’ve been trying to achieve for a number of years. And we’re at the point now, we’re at the cusp of being able to really expand our operation and do the stuff that Alaskans have always wanted.”

The Kodiak facility is capable of launching small rockets, but the more lucrative market is with medium-sized rockets, which have larger payloads and go into higher orbits.

Lockheed Martin’s proposal calls for modifications to the launch pad so its Athena IIS rocket and other medium-lift rockets can be launched from the site. The goal is to have three launches by 2020.

The Athena IIS is an all-solid fuel launch vehicle capable of launching up to 3,000 kg into sun-synchronous orbit. It is an upgraded version of the Athena rocket that was launched seven times with five successes before being mothballed.

Lockheed Martin is working with ATK to bring back the Athena booster for small and medium payloads.

ATK and Orbital Receive U.S. DOJ Clearance for Proposed Merger

ATK_LogoARLINGTON, Virg., Dec. 4, 2014 (ATK/Orbital PR) — Alliant Techsystems Inc. (“ATK”) (NYSE: ATK) and Orbital Sciences Corporation (“Orbital”) (NYSE: ORB) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has unconditionally cleared the proposed merger of ATK’s Aerospace and Defense Groups with Orbital. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) informed ATK and Orbital today, December 4, 2014, that the FTC and DOJ terminated the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period effective December 4, 2014. As previously announced, ATK and Orbital have entered into a transaction agreement, whereby ATK’s Aerospace and Defense Groups will merge with Orbital immediately following the spin-off of ATK’s Sporting Group business to ATK stockholders as a newly formed company called Vista Outdoor Inc. The companies anticipate completing the transaction in February 2015, subject to the satisfaction of remaining closing conditions, including the approval of both ATK’s and Orbital’s stockholders at special meetings scheduled for January 27, 2015.

Additional information concerning the special meetings and the transaction is included in ATK’s registration statement on Form S-4, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and, once it is declared effective, the joint proxy statement/prospectus included in the Form S-4 will be mailed to ATK and Orbital stockholders who are entitled to vote at the respective special meetings.

ATK, Orbital Sciences Going Forward With Merger Despite Antares Accident

ATK_LogoARLINGTON, Va. (ATK/Orbital Sciences PR) — Alliant Techsystems Inc. (“ATK”) (ATK) and Orbital Sciences Corporation (“Orbital”) (ORB) announced today that the two companies have set January 27, 2015 as the new date for their separate, special stockholder meetings in connection with the proposed transaction to spin off ATK’s Sporting Group business and immediately thereafter, merge ATK’s Aerospace and Defense Groups with Orbital. On October 28, 2014, both companies communicated they would hold separate, special stockholder meetings on December 9, 2014 for ATK stockholders to vote on the issuance of shares to stockholders of Orbital and for Orbital stockholders to vote on the proposed transaction. Following this announcement on October 28, 2014, a failure occurred during Orbital’s Antares launch.  Since the incident, the companies have conducted a thorough review and analysis of the launch failure and Orbital’s proposed recovery plan and long-term competitive position.  Following this review, ATK’s board of directors continues to support the strategic merits of the transaction and recommends that ATK stockholders vote to approve the issuance of shares to Orbital stockholders. Orbital’s board of directors also continues to recommend that Orbital stockholders vote to approve the proposed transaction.


Orbital Stock Takes a Serious Tumble as Company Seeks to Reassure Investors

Orbital Sciences stock took a major nose dive today following the failure of the company’s Antares launch vehicle last night. The stock is down more than 15 percent today.

Orbital officials held a conference call with investors and analysts earlier today. [Transcript] David  W.  Thompson,  CEO and chairman, and Garrett  E.  Pierce,  CFO and vice  chairman, spoke during the call. Below is a summary of the major points they made:

  • a lot of data on launch, don’t expect a problem in determining what went wrong
  • expects to zero in on the cause of the accident over the coming days
  • could take longer to determine the root cause
  • cautioned against drawing early conclusions, sometimes early guesses they are wrong
  • launch complex spared any major damage
  • Orbital carried insurance that will cover contract revenue on flight and repairs to launch complex
  • company has “ample and conservative” management reserves for the recovery period
  • next Antares/Cygnus launch was scheduled for early April
  • expects a delay of three months but hopefully not more than one year — too early to tell at this stage
  • company has amply supply of AJ-26 engines to cover remaining launches to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA
  • about two years away from flying Antares launch vehicle with a new first-stage engine
  • company could accelerate that change over if AJ-26 engine is identified as cause of the accident
  • will make a decision in November as to what to do about the engine change
  • hinted at possible other options other than accelerating the engine change but would not elaborate
  • still on track to submit a proposal for the CRS-2 contract in a few weeks
  • flights under CRS-1 extension agreement and CRS-2 proposal would be done with a new first-stage engine
  • do not expect the failure to affect planned merger with ATK
  • too early to tell whether early December vote on ATK merger will be delayed.

ATK Offers Replacement for RD-180 Engine

ATK_LogoArlington, Va., Sept. 23, 2014 (ATK PR) – ATK (NYSE: ATK) has provided the U.S. Air Force an American-made commercial solid rocket solution as a replacement for the RD-180 Russian-made, first-stage engine of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle.

“ATK’s solid rocket propulsion solution provides a cost-effective, reliable solution based on advanced technology,” said Blake Larson, president of ATK’s Aerospace Group. “I am confident our solution will meet the capabilities of the current RD-180 engine and provide added performance if required.”


Engine Providers Pitch Ideas for RD-180 Replacement to Government

Launch of Atlas V with NROL-33 satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 22, 2014. (Credit: ULA)
Launch of Atlas V with NROL-33 satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 22, 2014. (Credit: ULA)

Space News reports on an invite-only meeting last month during which America’s leading space companies discussed their ideas for replacing the Russian-supplied RD-180 engine that powers United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V engine.

The meeting was attended by White House and Pentagon officials, who are devising a strategy to eliminate the nation’s dependence on the Russian engine amid a deteriorating relationship between the two countries over the Ukraine war.


ATK Passes Critical Design Review for NASA’s Space Launch System Booster

NASA and ATK are on Schedule for 2017 Launch to Deep Space

 Arlington, Va., August 7, 2014 (ATK PR) –ATK (NYSE: ATK) has successfully completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) with NASA to verify that the five-segment solid rocket booster is on track for an unmanned, first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in 2017. The SLS vehicle is planned to launch humans deeper into space than ever before.

“Achieving this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment for ATK and NASA as we continue building the boosters for America’s Space Launch System,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of ATK’s Space Launch division. “Deep space exploration requires a heavy lift vehicle, and SLS is the only vehicle with the mass, volume and speed required for human missions to destinations such as the moon, an asteroid or Mars.”


This Week on The Space Show

This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, July 28, 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back JAY BARBREE, NBC News space reporter and author of the new book, “Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight.”

2. Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 7 PM PDT (10 PM EDT, 9 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. PAT PATTERSON to discuss the upcoming SmallSat Conference at Utah State in Logan, Utah.

3. Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 11AM-12 PM PDT (2-3PM EDT, 1-2 PM CDT): We welcome back Robert Meurer, Director, Corporate Business Development at ATK, Space Division, Beltsville, MD.

4. Friday, August 1, 2014:, NO LIVE SHOW TODAY, JURY DUTY. I will upload two NewSpace Conference interviews. When you see the program on the website and the blog, it is ready for play.

5. Sunday, August 3, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PST, (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). NO SHOW TODAY. I am heading to San Diego for the AIAA Space 2014 Conference.

Putin Eyes Ukraine’s Space and Defense Industries

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Russian Federation was left with some key installations and capabilities in newly-independent nations. Kazakhstan had authority over the main launch facility at Baikonur, while Ukraine found itself in control of ballistic missile producer Yuzhmash, the Yuzhnoye bureau that designs Yuzhmash’s rockets, and a host of other defense companies.

Today, more than 50 Ukrainian arms factories turn out technologies that are vital for the nation’s tottering economy and the Russian military that now threatens to invade it. The factories are located in the southern and eastern portions of Ukraine, where Moscow-based separatists have wrestled control away from local authorities.

With the fate of these regions and companies still very much up for grabs, the outcome is of concern far beyond eastern Ukraine. Launch providers in the United States, Europe and Brazil are looking on with great concern and trepidation.