Alliant Techsystems Buys Canadian Space Hardware Firm

Alliant Techsystems Buys Canadian Space Hardware Firm
An ATK-built solid rocket booster for NASA's space shuttle program is test fired in Utah on Nov. 16, 2006. (Image credit: ATK.)

WASHINGTON — Alliant Techsystems (ATK) announced Jan. 8 that it hasagreed to buy Canada?s largest space hardware manufacturer for $1.3 billion.

DanielMurphy, ATK?s chairman and chief executive officer, said the acquisition of Richmond,British Columbia-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associate?s (MDA) InformationSystems and Geospatial Information Services businesses will give ATKworld-class capabilities in space-based radar systems and space robotics, amongother capabilities. Murphy said the acquisition would also giveMinneapolis-based ATK greater access to non-U.S. markets for its goods andservices.

ATK intendsto combine the MDA businesses it is acquiring with another of its recent spaceacquisition, Beltsville, Md.-based Swales Aerospace, and establish a newbusiness group, ATK Space Systems. The group will be led by Carl Marchetto, whostepped down in December as head of Orbital Science Corp.?s Space SystemsGroup.

Murphyexpects the addition of the MDA businesses to its Beltsville, Md.-based Swalesoperations to give the company a serious leg up in the small satellite market,which he sees as a growth area for ATK.

?We at ATKreally do believe that we are on a cusp of a change in satellite design, andthat?s not to say that big satellites are going to go away, but they will becomplemented by more satellites that are smaller and are networked,? Murphysaid. ?MDA and Swales together provide us a darn near world-class capability.?

In additionto giving ATK greater access to non-U.S. markets, he said the acquisition alsowould allow ATK to market MDA?s space-based radar capabilities to U.S. nationalsecurity customers.

Murphy saidATK Space Systems would be based in Maryland, with the exact location still tobe determined.

Theacquisition will add more than 1,900 people to ATK?s payrolls and a projected$500 million in additional revenue during the first year.

MDA is theCanadian Space Agency?s prime contractor for its contributions to theinternational space station and perhaps is best known as the builder of thestation?s giant robotic arm.

MDA alsoworked in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency to build Radarsat 2, whichlaunchedin December, and holds the exclusive rights to distribute the satellite?simagery outside Canada.

ATK is a$4.1 billion company with 17,000 employees. Its main businesses aresolid-rocket propulsion, ammunition and advanced materials. The company?sUtah-based Launch Systems Group is the prime contractor for the main stage of NASA?sAres I crew launch vehicle.


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Editor-in-Chief, SpaceNews

Brian Berger is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews, a bi-weekly space industry news magazine, and He joined SpaceNews covering NASA in 1998 and was named Senior Staff Writer in 2004 before becoming Deputy Editor in 2008. Brian's reporting on NASA's 2003 Columbia space shuttle accident and received the Communications Award from the National Space Club Huntsville Chapter in 2019. Brian received a bachelor's degree in magazine production and editing from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.