Shooting for the Moon

Tucked away on one of Goleta’s lesser-known industrial areas, Alliant Techsystems - an aerospace and defense company better known as ATK - has a spaceworks operation gearing up to create the fanlike solar arrays for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the crew module for the Moon, and eventually the Mars-based Constellation Project.

On Monday afternoon, October 12, company officials joined by Congresswoman Lois Capps, Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves, Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, and other area dignitaries held a groundbreaking ceremony: The ATK facility on Pine Avenue in Goleta is due for a 25,000 square-foot expansion to accommodate a new laboratory, clean room, and office space for the NASA-related projects. “With the economic downturn, to see a company like ATK expand is great,” said Aceves. “They have a highly educated workforce and employ a lot of graduates from UCSB and Dos Pueblos High School. He added that while the company already has 170 employees in Goleta, that number is likely to increase significantly over the next several years.

Construction on the new facility - to be built next to the existing one, in Goleta’s Old Town Redevelopment Area- should begin within a week. Completion is scheduled for June, 2010. Aceves said that the city wants to facilitate keeping ATK on track to meet its production deadlines, as the company’s technology is an integral part of NASA’s 2019 manned lunar expedition, as well as a tentative plan to send a crew of astronauts to Mars by 2030. “This expansion was the result of a partnership that was formed between ATK, the Towbes Group, and the City to get the project completed in a timely manner so they can continue building equipment that can be used in space,” he said. ATK’s lease agreement with Goleta-based Towbes Group also includes a provision for an extension of Eckwill Street, which will connect Fairview with Pine Avenue.

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