ATK to Lay Off 450 Employees

atk-logoATK layoffs imminent / Company to trim up to 450 in October
StandardNET

Employees at ATK Space Systems were notified Thursday that the company will eliminate as many as 450 positions in October, with the majority of the cuts happening in Utah.

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ATK Loses Money But Beats Analysts’ Expectations

atk-logo

Alliant Techsystems 4Q beats expectations
Associated Press

Military contractor Alliant Techsystems Inc. said Thursday it lost more than $30 million in the first three months of this year, but it still beat analyst estimates and raised its fiscal 2010 outlook above Wall Street expectations.

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A Year After Its Near Sale, Canada’s MDA Hoping for Bigger Chunk of U.S. Market

2009: A space oddity
Ottawa Business Journal

MDA said it could not generate enough business in the U.S. from its position in Canada, which is why it offered up the technology to Minnesota-based Alliant Techsystems Inc.

“We have been frustrated in that area,” added Steve Oldham, vice-president of business development for MDA Space Missions, in a separate phone interview. “The U.S. space market is larger, but the U.S. has a strong philosophy of buying space within American space companies, so it’s hard for a Canadian company to compete.”

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ATK Reports Good Q4 Numbers

ATK reported what the company termed “solid” fourth quarter numbers today. However, the stock price fell about 6 percent in trading today because the company missed analyst expectations on revenues and projected weak growth for 2009.

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PlanetSpace Adds Boeing to COTS Team

Press Release

PlanetSpace announced today it has added the Space Exploration division of The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) to its existing teammates, Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) and Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), on the proposed solution to NASA for the Commercial Resupply Services to the International Space Station.

The PlanetSpace ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) team includes the following major members:

  • PlanetSpace is the overall prime contractor and manages the CRS contract.
  • ATK provides the Athena III launch vehicle and ground processing.
  • Lockheed Martin and Boeing will develop, produce and operate modular Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTV) that serve as the cargo carriers to the International Space Station.

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Parliamentary Committee Supports Rejection of MDA Sale

A key parliamentary committee issued a report on Thursday supporting the Canadian government’s decision to reject the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates’ space assets to American defense Contract Alliant Technosystems, the Globe and Mail reports.

“The report, tabled yesterday by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and the result of hearings held last month to scrutinize the sale, comes as another blow to a deal already widely seen as on death’s door. Nonetheless, Richmond-based MDA is lobbying Ottawa for a chance to plead its case for the $1.3-billion transaction.”

The report is expected to bolster the decision by Industry Minister Jim Prentice to reject the proposed sale on the grounds that it did not provide “net benefits” to Canada. MDA wants to use profits from the $1.3 billion sale to continue expanding its rapidly-expanding information products business.

MDA Coverage Roundup

Canadian writers have spilled a lot of ink (and megabytes) over their government’s decision to block MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates’ planned sale of its space division to American defense contractor Alliant Technosystems (ATK).

Some writers said it was the right thing to do while MDA’s supporters criticized the government for excessive economic nationalism. Other writers said blocking the deal would do little to solve larger problems with a Canadian space program they believe is adrift.

Below is a sampling of reactions north of the border:

Harper’s right to hold up MDA deal

Edmonton Journal

Space Program Needed Protecting
The Record

Ottawa’s MDA veto a populist play to voters
The Globe and Mail

What’s bad for shareholders is good for national security
Calgary Herald

Lost in Space
National Post

Harper’s Avro Arrow?
National Post

Off the space race pace: Stopping the sale of MDA to the Americans won’t save our wounded aerospace program
Ottawa Sun

Rideau Institute, Auto Workers Seek Release of Information on MDA Sale

CAW AND RIDEAU INSTITUTE PRESS RELEASE

TORONTO/OTTAWA, March 30 /CNW/ – The Canadian Auto Workers union and the Rideau Institute publicly released a letter written by their legal counsel calling upon Industry Minister Jim Prentice to release information regarding the purchase of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ (MDA) important Canadian space information systems, including RADARSAT-2 and the maker of the Canadarm by U.S.-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK).

Citing procedures regarding “Third Party Representations” which are set out under the Department’s Guidelines – Administrative Procedures issued pursuant to section 38 of the Investment Canada Act, the letter calls upon the Minister:

  • to seek permission from ATK to release any undertakings the U.S firm made to the government in support of its application;
  • to describe steps taken by the department in evaluating the compatibility of ATK’s application with other Canadian government policies; and
  • which departments, provinces and territories have been consulted about the application, as required by the Investment Canada Act.

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The Best of Times, the Worst of Times (Canada)

Declaring the nation to be at a crossroads in space, the Toronto Star is urging Canadian policymakers to chart a firm course for the country.

Star editors point to three worrisome signs: Canada’s active astronaut corps has dwindled down to three; its last contribution to the International Space Station, the Dextre robot, was successfully installed on the space station last week; and the builder of Dextre and Radarsat 2 is up for sale to an American defense contractor.

The paper urged Conservative Industry Jim Prentice “to weigh the merits – and demerits” of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ plan to sell its space division to Alliant Technosystems. Beyond that, the Star editors said policymakers need to define what precisely Canada should do in space.

“Marc Garneau, former astronaut and past head of the Canadian Space Agency (and a future Liberal candidate), says what we need is a comprehensive space strategy. ‘We are very much at a crossroads, at a time when even India, China and Brazil have got very ambitious space programs,’ says Garneau. ‘It seems everybody’s going up there while we are beginning to slip,'” the editors wrote.

Ruling on Controversial MDA Sale Delayed 30 Days

The Canadian government has announced a 30-day delay in its decision on whether to approve the controversial sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ space technology division to American defense contractor Alliant Technosystems.

Facing a Saturday deadline, Conservative Party Industry Minister Jim Prentice announced a month-long delay in order to conduct a more in-depth review of the sale. The Vancouver-based company has built some of Canada’s major contributions to space, including Canadarm, Radarsat 2, and the International Space Station’s new Dextre robot.

MDA wants to sell the division in order to focus on other parts of its business. Its shareholders have overwhelming approved the move. However, critics say the sale will devastate the Canadian space industry and threaten the nation’s sovereignty. One issue is whether U.S. law will limit Canada’s access to data from Radarsat 2, which the Canadian government primarily funded.

There has been a lot of coverage of this issue in the Canadian media. Below are some useful links:

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
Ruling on sale of Canadarm, Radarsat to U.S. arms-maker delayed 30 days

Canada Newswire:
Access Denied: U.S. Law Will Limit Canadian Access to RADARSAT-2 Data if Sale of MDA’s Space Division Proceeds

Liberal Party of Canada:
MDA Review Must Provide Solid Answers to Sovereignty Issues and Protecting Canada’s Space Industry

New Democratic Party:
NDP MP Peggy Nash demands that minister reject the sale of MDA

National Post:
Time to ground space firm’s sale (Op-ed by Don Martin)

Should Canada Scuttle the MacDonald Dettwiler Sale?

Don Martin has an op-ed in the National Post urging the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to scuttle the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates’ space division to American defense contractor Alliant Technosystems.

“This company’s heavily subsidized satellite technology was designed specifically to assert Northern sovereignty, assess global warming’s impact on our crops, measure sea-ice thickness and even spot submarines in shallow water,” Martin writes. “And that’s just the state-of-the-art 2,200-kilogram RADARSAT 2 satellite built and launched by MDA only three months ago.”

The proposed sale, overwhelmingly approved last week by shareholders, has created a major backlash north of the border. The company says it will produce a cash infusion that will allow it to focus on other businesses. Critics like Martin say the sale will devastate Canada’s space industry. The Canadian and American governments must approve the deal.

Shareholders overwhelmingly approved the sale on the very day that MDA’s latest creation, Dextre, rocketed into orbit aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Astronauts have spent the last few days installing and activating the maintenance robot on the exterior of the station. MDA also built the Canadarm robot cranes for the space shuttle and space station.