SALT LAKE CITY — The end of the space shuttle program is resulting in the end of employment for some Utah workers.

Alliant Techsystems, the Minnesota-based defense contractor, announced Tuesday that it will cut 134 positions from its aerospace division in Utah effective immediately.

The company has cut more than 1,700 Utah jobs since October 2009. Following the last round of cutbacks in October 2010, ATK was left with approximately 3,600 employees in Utah working at its facilities in Clearfield, Promontory and Magna.

The number of remaining Utah employees for the aerospace group is approximately 2,300, according to Trina Patterson, media relations director for ATK Aerospace Systems.

"Since 2009, we have reduced our headcount by just over 2,100 and that includes our facilities outside of Utah," she said.

"(The current layoffs are) due to the near completion of the shuttle program, changes in technical direction and funding on the ARES program, and the shift in our critical skill mix," Patterson explained.

As with previous cutbacks, affected employees will receive a severance package based on years of service and job-placement assistance that includes providing a career-placement workshop with advice from a professional career counselor.

Federal funding cuts for the space program have had a major impact on ATK operations nationwide, resulting in significant layoffs in recent years. Patterson said coping with the reality of such upheaval has been especially tough for the company and its employees.

"We have an incredible workforce (and) a lot who have worked here for their entire careers and worked on the shuttle program their entire lives," she said. "This is always extremely difficult to do."

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