Today’s Tidbits: December 1, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: December 1, 2017

Here are our tidbits for December 1, 2017:  Russian commission meets on Soyuz/Fregat failure; and Orbital ATK stockholders approve acquisition by Northrop Grumman.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter for more news and live tweeting of events.

Update on Russia’s Launch Failure 

Russia’s Roscosmos space state corporation gave an update today on the first meeting of the commission investigating the November 28 failure of a Soyuz 2.1b rocket and Fregat upper stage that doomed the Meteor M2-1 weather satellite and 18 smaller satellites.

The launch was only the second from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Siberia.  The commission determined that ground systems at the launch site were not to blame.  It also cleared the Soyuz 2.1b rocket, allowing a military launch using a Soyuz 2.1b scheduled for this weekend from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome to proceed.

Early indications are that navigation equipment on the Fregat upper stage was improperly programmed, but a final determination will be made by the commission.  Its next meeting is on December 12.

Orbital ATK Stockholders Approve Acquisition

Orbital ATK stockholders have approved the company’s acquisition by Northrop Grumman.   The two companies announced the $9.2 billion deal on September 18 subject to approvals.  The $9.2 billion is composed of $7.8 billion in cash plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in debt.

Orbital ATK is itself the result of the merger of Orbital Sciences Corporation and ATK just two years ago.

Northrop Grumman is probably best known in space circles as the prime contractor for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and DOD’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS).  Among its space products and services, Orbital ATK builds government and commercial satellites, launch vehicles, and provides commercial cargo services for NASA’s International Space Station with the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft.

Initially, Orbital ATK will operate as a new, fourth business sector of Northrop Grumman “to ensure a strong focus on operating performance and a smooth transition.”

The deal still requires government regulatory approval.  The companies hope to complete the transaction by mid-2018.

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