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The Associated Press March 4, 2010, 6:41PM ET

Orbital buys General Dynamics' spacecraft business

Orbital Sciences, which makes small rockets, satellites and other space equipment, said Thursday that it will buy the spacecraft development and manufacturing business of a General Dynamics Corp. subsidiary.

Terms were not disclosed. The deal should close within a month.

Orbital said the acquisition will bolster its position in the market for national security space systems, including spacecraft used for intelligence and surveillance and missile tracking.

It also said the deal will strengthen its capabilities to design and manufacture science, weather and space-based astronomy satellite systems and expand the company's opportunities to serve customers in the Department of Defense, intelligence community and civil government agencies.

Over the past 20 years, GD Advanced Information Systems developed and built 15 small- and medium-class satellites.

General Dynamics' spacecraft unit is in Gilbert, Ariz., near Orbital's launch vehicle engineering and manufacturing facilities. About 325 employees will join Orbital as part of the deal.

The deal was announced after the stock market closed. General Dynamics shares fell 56 cents after-hours to $72.38. The shares had risen 11 cents during the regular session. Orbital Sciences shares fell 3 cents to $18.61 during the regular session.

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