PROMONTORY -- A contract for ATK to supply a second stage motor for a commercial space-launch vehicle will keep people working in the company's Utah facilities, a spokeswoman said Monday.
ATK announced it was awarded a $57 million contract to provide the Castor!AE 30XL, an upgraded second stage motor for Orbital Science Corporation's Taurus!AE II commercial launch vehicle, which will supply cargo for NASA to the International Space Station.
Work on that motor system has already been performed at ATK's Promontory facility, according to spokeswoman Trina Patterson.
The motor stage was test-fired in December at an ATK facility in Tennessee that simulates the upper-atmosphere conditions where the motor will fire, she said.
ATK has suffered about 2,100 layoffs in Utah in the past two years as the space shuttle program is replaced, including 134 jobs lost at the start of April. ATK made motors for the space shuttles.
The new contract will not allow the company to rehire employees who had been laid off, Pattrerson said, "but it will sustain jobs in the current program."
The Castor 30XL is a larger and higher-performance solid rocket motor, with greater payload capability than the Castor30A, which is used on the current configuration of the Taurus II, according to a company news release.
"The CASTOR!AE 30XL is another important addition to our expanding portfolio of commercial propulsion products, which include the GEM, Orion, and CASTOR!AE solid rocket motor lines." said Scott Lehr, ATK Aerospace Systems vice president and general manager of Strategic and Commercial Systems. "We leveraged our heritage flight-proven and cost-effective technologies to develop a customized, higher-performing second stage solution for Orbital's Taurus II launch vehicle."
Orbital's Taurus II medium-class launch vehicle is slated to perform commercial cargo re-supply missions to the International Space Station for NASA.
"We have had a long and successful history of working with Orbital as their solid propulsion provider. We are very pleased to be able to provide an upgraded stage to support their critical NASA COTS and CRS programs, as well as other NASA, DoD and commercial mission requirements" said Lehr.