Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Economic hopes for new ATK rocket

Alliant Techsystems of Utah and its partners unveiled on Tuesday a two-stage rocket called Liberty that it hopes will be the next launch vehicle for the U.S. space program. It’s the latest effort by ATK, the military contractor with 2,100 Utah employees in the company’s aerospace division, to revamp a propulsion system partially stalled by the Obama administration.

The Liberty would use a Utah-built rocket motor as the first stage, while ATK partners with the European company Astrium to complete the launch vehicle. ATK hopes NASA will accept the company’s bid to use the rocket, perhaps preserving 400 Utah jobs and adding a few more.

NASA is accepting project proposals for the next generation of rockets to take astronauts to the International Space Station. ATK said it will build Liberty using existing dollars, but it hopes NASA will award the company a portion of a $200 million pool of money set aside for promising projects. The company with operations in Utah said that, with the money, it can move up the test launch to 2013. Salt Lake Tribune