The aerospace giant ATK announced Thursday the layoff of approximately 150 employees at its Box Elder County facility as well as in Mississippi and Ohio.
The company, best known for its solid-rocket boosters that propelled the space shuttle into orbit for many years, has laid off roughly half its workforce since 2009.
ATK spokeswoman Trina Helquist said the majority of layoffs took place at the nearby Promontory facility. About 90 employees agreed to voluntary severance.
“These reductions are a result of cutbacks in funding on multiple programs, our ongoing consolidation and reorganization, and just changes in the business climate and production rates at our manufacturing facilities," she said.
Since the retirement of the shuttle program, ATK has been working to reinvent itself. In October of last year, the company said it was streamlining its manufacturing process to save time and money in an effort to show NASA it could once again be a viable partner in powering the next generation of space vehicles. But competing firms could ultimately win the contracts associated with NASA’s Space Launch System – the giant rocket set to replace the shuttle.
Helquist said the company regrets the need to cut staff numbers and she acknowledged the impact such a move has on community and families.
“It is extremely hard," she added. "We regret the need to reduce employment. They’re our friends and they’re our neighbors so we understand that it’s never easy. We’ve lost some very talented individuals.”
Despite years of cutbacks, ATK says it’s committed to being part of the future of space exploration, and Helquist said her team will test a rocket motor by the end of this year, confident the next NASA rockets will be powered by ATK motors.