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Chandler-Based Orbital ATK Division To Build New Heavy Rocket

Last month, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket made headlines as the first privately built heavy lift rocket to enter space.

Now, Orbital ATK's Chandler-based Launch Vehicle Division plans to join them.

Adding a heavy lifter to its stable of small and medium commercial and defense rockets will enable Orbital to compete in a new market, one that handles higher orbiting communications satellites, heavier spy satellites and, potentially, human missions to space.

Employing 200 engineers and technicians in Arizona and Utah, the $200 million (and counting) program is in the design, testing and retooling phases.

When finished, Orbital's rocket will carry national security satellites for the U.S. Air Force in lieu of a red Tesla Roadster.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.