Northrop Grumman Acquisition of Orbital ATK Strengthens Diverse Space Offerings

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, and Richard Pettibone, Aerospace & Defense Companies Analyst, Forecast International.

Antares launch. Source: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Behind all the sound and fury surrounding the recent UTC/Rockwell deal, Northrop Grumman quietly moved in earlier this week and scooped up rocket and missile maker Orbital ATK in a deal valued at $9.2 billion.  Under the agreement Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Orbital ATK shareholder approval. Continue reading

Ending Ban on Retired Missiles Could Disrupt Lightweight Launch Market

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Minotaur I. Source: Orbital ATK

Minotaur I. Source: Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK is asking U.S. lawmakers to end a 20-year ban on using decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to carry commercial satellites into orbit. Orbital ATK has built a successful business around using retired ICBMs to launch military satellites.[i] Its Minotaur rocket has lifted off 25 times since 2000,[ii] and has demonstrated an ability to carry multiple payloads to orbit in one launch (for example, in November 2013 a Minotaur I carried 30 payloads into orbit).

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Launch Failure Won’t Be a Long-Term Setback for SpaceX

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

SpaceX Falcon

SpaceX Falcon

On June 27, a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon cargo spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) broke apart shortly after launch. The launch vehicle lifted off at 10:21 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral launch site.

The Dragon capsule, the seventh launched under NASA’s Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract, was carrying supplies to the ISS, including food, scientific equipment, and station hardware. One of the more important pieces of equipment being carried was the International Docking Adaptor-1 (IDA-1), part of a universal docking system being developed by NASA so more companies can take part in ISS operations. The Dragon also carried eight CubeSats for Planet Labs. Continue reading