Orbital Sciences to pay $55 million for General Dynamics subsidiary

Dulles-based Orbital Sciences said on Thursday that it would pay $55 million in cash to acquire a satellite subsidiary of Falls Church-based General Dynamics.

Orbital, a space technology company with a workforce of roughly 3,500 including around 1,600 at its Dulles campus will acquire GD Advanced Information Systems, a spacecraft unit specialising in medium-class satellites.

The unit is located in a 135,000-square-foot engineering and manufacturing facility in Gilbert, Arizona about 10 miles from a facility operated by Orbital in Chandler, Arizona.

With the deal which is expected to close in four weeks, Orbital would add about 325 employees to its workforce.

According to industry analysts the deal would see Orbital emerge as a significant player in the national security satellite market.

The company has worked for the Defense Department but with this acquisition will extend its reach to offer small satellites to other defense and intelligence agencies, including NASA and NOAA. According to Orbital's projections its sales will be in the region of about $1.2 billion this year.

"This positions us to be more competitive in markets that we are already in today or have been aspiring to enter in the future," said Barron Beneski, a spokesman for Orbital. "They've done work for customers we would like to do work for but have not yet. It brings us a set of customer relationships that we'd have to build over time."

According to defense industry analysts, with the deal, Orbital would get a leg up on getting more work for the Pentagon.