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Hatch: Passage of NASA Reauthorization Takes Utah's Solid Rocket Industry off Life Support

Press Release From: Sen. Hatch
Posted: Friday, October 1, 2010

image WASHINGTON - The House's passage late Wednesday of the Senate version of the NASA Reauthorization Bill helps ensure the book is not closed on northern Utah's storied solid rocket motor industry, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said.

"Though we will have hurdles to face in the future, the House passage of the Senate bill builds a foundation for the future of the civilian solid rocket motor industry in Utah," Hatch said. "This was a collaborative effort, and I'm grateful to members of the Utah congressional delegation for their hard work and support on this legislation."

Hatch was successful in getting language inserted in the bill which details specific payload requirements for a heavy-lift space launch system that, Utah industry experts agree, can only be realistically met through the use of solid rocket motors like the ones manufactured by ATK in northern Utah. The legislation further requires NASA to use, to the extent practicable, existing contracts, workforces and industries from the Space Shuttle and Ares rockets, including solid rocket motors. The bill also requires an operational capability for the space launch system by the end of 2016. This deadline makes it very difficult for the development of an alternative system which does not use solid rocket motors.

These developments, Hatch noted, represent a major reversal in fortunes from seven months ago, when the Obama administration announced plans to scrap Project Constellation, a move that could have ended the manufacture of solid rocket motors for NASA and permanently undermined our manned space flight program. The news resulted in thousands of layoffs in northern Utah, home to many space-related firms that rely heavily on government contracts with NASA.

The NASA Reauthorization Bill now goes to the President for his signature.

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