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ATK wins USAF space propulsion contract

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Minneapolis (UPI) Sep 14, 2007
Alliant Techsystems has won a U.S. Air Force contract to develop a propulsion system for small spacecraft.

Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, said in a statement Tuesday that the USAF Research Laboratory, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., had given it a $3.3 million contract, with options worth an additional $4.7 million, "to develop a multi-mode propulsion system for small spacecraft."

"The multi-mode system incorporates chemical and electric propulsion to provide unique on-orbit maneuvering flexibility," the company said.

ATK said it would "lead an industry team that includes Busek and American Pacific to perform the work. Phase I, completed in 2006, involved six competitors working to develop concepts that demonstrated an ability to meet the Air Force mission set. ATK's concept was the only design selected for the Phase II award."

"The matured concept would be integrated into a prototype flight-like system in an optional follow on phase, should the Air Force decide to move forward with Phase III. ATK's Space Division, which includes the recently acquired Swales Aerospace operations, will provide added assurance that the prototype system has direct application to ongoing tactical satellite development efforts," the company said.

"ATK is pleased to lead this cutting-edge operationally responsive technology development effort," said Bart Olson, vice president and general manager of ATK's Tactical Propulsion and Controls division in Baltimore. "Our war fighters will greatly benefit from the added space asset flexibility offered by ATK's multi-mode propulsion system."

ATK describes itself as a "$4.0 billion advanced weapon and space systems company employing approximately 16,500 people in 21 states."

Busek focuses on electric space propulsion and materials processing. It also offers analytical, computational, experimental and product services to government and industry.

American Pacific makes specialty chemicals and provides propulsion products for defense, aerospace and pharmaceutical customers. It specializes in fuels for maneuvering and flying in space with solid fuel propulsion thrusters and also produces active ingredients in drugs to treat diseases such as HIV, epilepsy and cancer.

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The Prius Of Space
Pasadena CA (JPL) Sep 14, 2007
If you drive a car - and you know who you are - you have invariably come upon the dreaded dilemma of refueling. When the needle on your gas gauge wavers over the unseemly 'E,' you have to ask yourself one question - Do I stop at the next gas station or press on, hoping for a fuel oasis somewhere down the road? But what if you need to motor somewhere three billion-plus miles off the beaten path - somewhere where neither regular nor premium unleaded have so far feared to tread?

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