When ATK Aerospace Group’s Space Components Division in Goleta won a contract to continue development of the MegaFlex solar array, the announcement caught the attention of a teacher at the Anacapa School in Santa Barbara, California. The teacher was researching potential topics for the Anacapa School’s annual week-long symposium, which brings together an elite group of subject matter experts from across southern California. With this year’s theme revolving around the study and exploration of space, MegaFlex sounded like an excellent addition to the program—so the teacher reached out to ATK, and Nathan Walker, a design engineer at ATK’s Goleta facility, volunteered to give a presentation.
“I was eager to volunteer, because two of my former classmates and roommates at Westmont College in Santa Barbara had at one time been science teachers at the school, and they spoke very highly of its mission and approach to education,” said Walker. Other presenters at this year’s symposium included professors, researchers, engineers and an astronaut.
Walker’s presentation, called “How to Power Your Spaceship,” focused on the basic science behind electrically-powered propulsion and its possibilities for improved space travel over the next decade. Walker also showed how ATK’s development of the MegaFlex solar array (image below) plays a key role in advancing this technology because of its power-to-weight ratio.
“The students and faculty enjoyed learning that some really cool stuff is being built right in their backyard,” said Walker. “One particular student had already been doing some research on solar cell technology on his own, and he expressed interest in perhaps one day interning or even working at ATK’s Goleta facility.”
Walker is hopeful that ATK’s participation in this event set the stage for further opportunities to partner with the Anacapa School in encouraging some of the brightest students in the area to pursue careers in science and technology.
To view Walker’s presentation on YouTube, visit http://bit.ly/Y1aImu
We are proud of the nearly 3,000 engineers that work hard every day at ATK locations from coast to coast. National Engineers Week celebrates the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions. ATK locations and staff support the STEM Foundation by participating in local events that help the our youth become familiar with the many possibilities available in engineering fields.
ViviSat, the in-orbit satellite life-extension service, was featured at the recent SATCON (Satellite Communications Conference & Expo) in New York, NY. ViviSat, a joint venture between ATK and U.S. Space, LLC, is designed to enable satellite operators to significantly extend satellite mission length, activate new markets and protect their franchises. The product was discussed during a panel titled, “How are Next-Gen Satellites Meeting Customer Needs?” Space.com article includes video
An image of ATK’s MegaFlex solar array was transmitted to the “big screen” in Times Square when the press release was issued in October. When complete, MegaFlex will provide 10 times more power than the largest current satellite array technology. The solar array is under development by ATK’s Space Components Division in Goleta, California.