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Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK - Analyst Report) has been awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin Space Systems – a unit of aerospace and defense major Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT - Analyst Report) – to supply UltraFlex solar arrays. The solar arrays currently being fabricated are scheduled for delivery in 2015. Alliant’s Space Components division is entrusted with the task.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems will utilize the arrays for National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Lander mission. Lockheed Martin will construct and control the spacecraft. The objective of the mission is to position a lander, having advanced geophysical devices, on Mars in 2016 to explore the red planet’s deep interior, including determining seismology, temperature and reflexes.

The Alliant-invented UltraFlex solar array is an accordion-fanfold, flexible-blanket solar array, consisting of inter-connected, triangular and ultra-lightweight substrates. The state-of-the-art array’s wing can collapse to a smaller volume and footprint on the spacecraft. During the operation, the substrates unfold and the array is tensioned to figure a shallow and umbrella-shaped membrane structure. The array is compatible with all solar-cell technologies. The round fan-fold design of these solar arrays provides superior performance. In 2008, the UltraFlex solar arrays were used successfully for the Mars Phoenix Lander mission.

Alliant continues to expand its product and service portfolio under its Aerospace Group. In Apr 2014, the company completed successful testing of its MegaFlex solar array wing. In the future, NASA will utilize the MegaFlex solar array to power its large-scale Solar Electric Propulsion systems on robotic and manned exploration missions.

Alliant has strong business ties with Lockheed Martin having supported many of the latter’s space-related missions. In May 2014, Alliant delivered various components for the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket. ULA is jointly owned by The Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report) and Lockheed Martin.

Proven track record of product and service standards are expected to make Alliant a trusted partner for several aerospace missions. Alliant announced in Apr 2014 that it will form a new entity called Orbital ATK, Inc., combining its Aerospace and Defense Groups with another company Orbital Sciences Corporation (ORB - Snapshot Report). The aim is to focus more on aerospace operations and expand the scale of operations.

Alliant currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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