Hercules Aerospace has announced that because of its temporary hold on producing the Titan IV rocket motor, about 120 hourly wage employees will be laid off in northern Utah.

The new layoffs are at the Bacchus Works and the fiber plant, both in Magna, and at the winding operation in Clearfield. These are in addition to hundreds laid off in recent months in a company "right-sizing" streamlining operation.On April 1, a spectacular explosion ripped through the static test stand at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., during the first firing of an upgraded Titan IV solid rocket motor built by Hercules. Nobody was injured in the explosion, which destroyed the motor, but parts of the upgrade project were put on hold while Air Force and industry experts began to investigate the cause.

"Hercules remains committed to the Titan IV SRMU (solid rocket motor upgrade), but some manufacturing elements of it must now be curtailed until we know what caused the problem during the test," said R.G. Peterson, vice president and general manager of the Hercules Utah Aerospace Division. Affected jobs are related to manufacturing the SRMU motor or its cases, or the casting of its propellant.

More reductions are likely soon, as Hercules continues to curtail Titan IV activities pending the investigation's findings, he said.