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O'Malley highlights state's aerospace industry

Governor tours Beltsville facility Monday

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Photo by Kayla Faria. ATK Space Systems Division Vice President Tom Wilson, right, welcomes Gov. Martin O’Malley to tour the Beltsville facility Monday.

Photo by Kayla Faria. ATK Space Systems Division Vice President Tom Wilson, right, welcomes Gov. Martin O’Malley to tour the Beltsville facility Monday.

Published on: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By Kayla Faria

By Kayla Faria

Gov. Martin O’Malley stood with his hands in his pockets as he was briefed about heat pipes that expand the capacity of satellites. But the two-term governor whipped out his phone to take a photo of a plaque with the state seal during a tour of the ATK Space Systems Division in Beltsville.

Robotic Rendezvous and Proximity Operations Director Jeff Braden’s demonstrated robots “pretending” to be satellites after O’Malley touted the state’s aerospace industry at the lab of the global aerospace, defense and commercial products company that is developing a way to repair orbiting satellites.

The satellites were “built on internal research and development dollars,” Braden said.

For O’Malley, ATK’s greatest asset is its capacity to employ Marylanders. The governor called for the federal government to invest in aerospace innovation and stop the “mindless meat cleaver” of sequestration.

“There is no progress without jobs,” O’Malley said. “That balanced approach is an American approach and it works.”

Aerospace employment increased from about 625,000 in 2011 to more than 629,000 in the last quarter of 2012, despite layoffs in some facilities supporting military programs, according to the Aerospace Industries Association.

But Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens said that sequestration cuts could be “catastrophic” for the industry.

O’Malley talked about creating a “pipeline” of education and workforce development at Prince George’s Community College and in high schools through career and technical programs to foster Maryland’s prominence in the aerospace industry and prepare Marylanders to secure jobs created through its innovation. 

The state is home to 15 of the nation’s top 20 aerospace companies and 70 of the top 100 defense contractors, supporting more than 140,000 jobs, according to the O’Malley administration.

More than 450 people work in ATK’s Beltsville division. An increased in demand for ATK’s Space System Division products created 72 new jobs filled in 2013.

“Our highly engineered products — manufactured right here in our Maryland facility — are in demand both nationally and internationally,” ATK Vice President Tom Wilson said. “Being located in an aerospace and defense cluster has enabled us to expand and create high-paying manufacturing jobs.”

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