Stock Price: 133.76 +0.06 5/25/2018 3:59 PM ET

Stock Price: 133.76 +0.06 5/25/2018 3:59 PM ET
Orbital ATK’s Combined Heritage: Pioneering New Spacecraft Technologies


The Space Components Division (SCD) of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group is pioneering new technologies that will enhance the viability of our key spacecraft. Previously a part of ATK, the division is an example of how the recent merger is certain to make a powerful difference to customers and shareholders.

The 700-member SCD team is the leading supplier of spacecraft components to the world aerospace marketplace—very few U.S. satellites fly without an SCD component. Operating out of facilities in California, Utah and Maryland, SCD offers government and commercial customers access to mission-critical components, including integrated thermal systems, structures, deployables and propulsion tanks.

“The SCD team brings its technology and engineering strength to help optimize Orbital ATK’s line of spacecraft,” said Alan Jones, vice president of SCD business development. “By vertically integrating and aligning SCD’s market-leading expertise, we will enhance the company’s capabilities and strengthen our competitive position in what is a very dynamic space market.”

A prime example of this vertical integration is SCD’s significant contributions to Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft where the Division is providing upgraded solar arrays and fuel tanks to the vehicle. The next launch of Cygnus, scheduled for November, will mark the first flight of the Division’s UltraFlex solar arrays in earth orbit.

UltraFlex solar arrays are significantly lighter and stow more compactly than traditional rigid-panel arrays, due to their circular shape and fan-like deployment. Lighter solar arrays will allow Orbital ATK to deliver more materials and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) with each launch.

The Cygnus UltraFlex arrays, manufactured at SCD’s Goleta, California site, measure 3.7 meters in diameter and provide 3,500 watts of power to the spacecraft. These circular solar arrays, composed of a flexible membrane supporting solar cells tensioned between radial ribs, increase structural efficiency and significantly lower mass compared to traditional rigid solar panels.

UltraFlex arrays, which have been built in sizes from two to 10 meters, have been setting new records in performance since the 1990s. They are already operational on Mars on the Mars Lander Program, and will be delivered soon to support the Mars InSight mission, as well. Development work recently completed has demonstrated an ability to increase the size of a wing to an enormous 30 meters in diameter, which will enable the very high levels of energy production necessary for future manned missions to Mars using solar electric propulsion.

Also contributing to the upcoming Cygnus launch is SCD’s Commerce, California site, which develops propulsion and fuel tank systems for spacecraft. Commerce has been supporting spacecraft for decades. In fact, the majority of our nation’s commercial, military and scientific missions incorporate SCD tanks.

SCD developed and qualified a new tank for Cygnus using a unique diaphragm technology that allows for easier control of the flow of propellant being supplied to the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Commerce was able to combine this technology with an existing forging design to reduce overall cost and shorten delivery times.

The new solar arrays and fuel tanks being used for the next Cygnus spacecraft, and for all those that will follow, show the benefits of vertical integration to Orbital ATK. SCD was a celebrated supplier to Orbital in the past. with the merger, the division is becoming more tightly aligned with Orbital ATK’s ongoing product development initiatives. This means that SCD can focus its research and development dollars along avenues that will yield greater benefits for Orbital ATK spacecraft, including efficiency and cost savings.

SCD has an exceptional portfolio of heritage products that will deliver next-generation spacecraft technology to Cygnus and other critical missions. Orbital ATK is extremely proud to have this highly capable team as part of its new family.

UltraFlex arrays at SCD-Goleta cleanroom.

Artist's rendering of Cygnus with the UltraFlex arrays approaching the ISS.