A major engine of employment in the Top of Utah is riding on the upcoming Obama administration decisions about where to go with the nation’s space program.
ATK is a prime contractor of the Ares I rocket, which NASA has intended as the next-generation launch vehicle for crewed space flights. But there seems to be more trouble than ever facing the Ares program, including the Delta IV competitor motor, and heightened concerns about Ares costs.
The Augustine commission, a panel assigned to review the rocket programs’ status, came out recently critical of the Ares, as reported in an Orlando Sentinel story printed on page 2A of the Standard-Examiner today. This sets up an industrial and political tussle. The administration will need to decide whether to continue with the Ares program after billions have been spent, or respond to calls of future savings by killing the Ares and going with the Delta IV or something else.
This is another of those, “Well, he wanted to be president” issues for Obama, with important constituencies on all sides circling in. For the Top of Utah, the biggest concern is all the mouths fed by ATK and its many employees here. But the sticker shock often delivered by the space program, such as $50 billion more to be needed for Ares, is tough to ignore.