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Valley rocket company looking to soar past SpaceX

Posted at 10:28 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 01:28:46-04

A Valley rocket company is looking to blast past SpaceX in the private company space race. 

Instead of shooting Tesla roadsters into space, Orbital ATK is launching national security satellites. 

"I don't care how many times you launch a rocket, I don't care what company you work for, you get that adrenaline rush," said Todd Warne, an Orbital ATK rocket scientist in charge of electrical systems. 

While SpaceX soaks up the flashy headlines, Orbital ATK works a bit more behind the scenes on serious space stuff.

"The majority of it is need to know. It's not something we can sit there and advertise for good reason."

Orbital ATK is the company behind our country's missile defense system. If, for example, North Korea launches a nuke our way it's Orbital ATK's missile tech that will try to shoot it down. 

"We only get one opportunity to make it work right, and it needs to work when we do use it," said Kevin Wilder, Orbital ATK rocket scientist and program manager for the company's heavy launch vehicle system currently in development. 

Elon Musk and SpaceX were the first private company to launch a heavy rocket. But Orbital ATK isn't far behind. The company's $200 million, 210-foot heavy rocket will carry more than fancy cars. 

"It's really being utilized to handle payloads that will be used for the Air Force," Warne said. 

Exactly what those payloads will be, that's top secret.

Orbital ATK said the space business in Arizona is doing so well they're expanding. The company is hiring some 200 top-level aerospace jobs and expanding into a brand new campus.