General Atomics: Wikis


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General Atomics
Type Private
Founded 1955
Headquarters San Diego, California, U.S.
Key people Neal Blue
Linden Blue

General Atomics is a nuclear physics and defense contractor headquartered in San Diego, California. General Atomics’ research into fission and fusion matured into competencies in related technologies, allowing the company to expand into other fields of research. General Atomics and its affiliated companies are a leading resource for systems development ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electric, electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, provides unmanned aerial vehicles and radar solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including the Predator, Predator B, Sky Warrior and Predator C. The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)/GMTI radar into both manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as the CLAW sensor control and image analysis software, and integrates sensor and communications equipment into manned ISR aircraft.



The TRIGA nuclear reactor was one of the first General Atomics projects

General Atomics (GA) was founded July 18, 1955 in San Diego, California as the General Atomic division of General Dynamics "for the purpose of harnessing the power of nuclear technologies for the benefit of the United States of America".

GA's very first offices were in the General Dynamics facility on Hancock Street in San Diego. GA also used a schoolhouse on San Diego's Barnard Street as its temporary headquarters, which it would later "adopt" as part of its Education Outreach program. San Diego voters approved the transfer of land to GA for permanent facilities in Torrey Pines and the John Jay Hopkins Laboratory for Pure and Applied Science was formally dedicated there on June 25, 1959. The Torrey Pines facility continues to serve as the company's headquarters today.

The initial projects were the TRIGA nuclear reactor and Project Orion.

GA was sold in 1967 to Gulf Oil and renamed Gulf General Atomic. In 1973, GA was again renamed as General Atomic Company when Royal Dutch Shell Group's Scallop Nuclear Inc. became a 50-50 partner in the company. When Gulf Oil bought out its partner, effective January 1, 1982, Gulf subsequently renamed the company GA Technologies Inc. In mid-1984, Chevron took ownership of GA following its merger with Gulf Oil.

In 1986, GA was sold to a company owned by Neal Blue and Linden Blue when it assumed its current name.

In 1987, former U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, Thomas J. Cassidy Jr. joined General Atomics. In 1993, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) was created, with Cassidy as President, and later spun off in 1994 as a General Atomics affiliated company.[1] On March 15, 2010, Cassidy stepped down as President of GA-ASI, staying on as non-executive chairman of the company's management committee. Frank Pace, the executive vice president of Aircraft Systems Group, succeeded Cassidy as President of GA-ASI.[2]

In 2007, General Atomics was developing a next generation nuclear power plant design, the Gas Turbine Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR).

Business groups

  • Advanced Technologies Group
    • Advanced Process Systems Division
    • Electromagnetic Systems Division - The Electromagnetic Systems (EMS) Division of General Atomics is a supplier of electromagnetic systems and related power equipment for a variety of defense, energy, and commercial transportation applications. EMS has expertise in the design and fabrication of linear motors, superconducting and conventional rotating motors, power inverters, high-voltage DC power distribution systems, and numerous other energy conversion, distribution, and storage systems. EMS is a leader in applying electromagnetic technologies to aircraft launch and recovery (EMALS and AAG System), projectile launch (Navy Rail Gun), and magnetic levitation transportation systems.
    • Systems Engineering Division
    • Nuclear Waste Management
  • Energy Group
  • Nuclear Fuels Group

Affiliated Companies

The Predator UAV is made by General Atomics affiliate General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)[3]
    • Aircraft Systems Group - The Aircraft Systems Group of GA-ASI is a leading designer and manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and provides pilot training and support services for UAS field operations.
    • Reconnaissance Systems Group - The Reconnaissance Systems Group of GA-ASI designs, manufactures and integrates the Magnum (Raptor View) high-resolution EO/IR and Lynx® SAR/GMTI sensor systems for both manned and unmanned aircraft.
  • General Atomics Electronic Systems (GA-ESI) - General Atomics Electronic Systems, Inc. consists of five product lines involving different aspects of energy.[4][5]
    • Terminal Automation Products (TAP) provides automated distribution, inventory control and transaction processing systems to bulk product storage facilities that handle petroleum, chemical and agricultural products.
    • Radiation Monitoring Systems (RMS) designs, manufactures, and supports a full range of radiation monitoring, detecting, control, data collection, and display equipment, with an installed base of equipment and systems at over half of the currently operating nuclear plants in the United States and at numerous sites in Europe and throughout the Far East.
    • General Atomics Energy Products manufactures Maxwell high voltage capacitors after acquiring the product line from Maxwell Technologies in 2000.[10] General Atomics Energy Products web site, accessed 22 Feb 2010"</ref>
    • The Gulftronic Separator System is a continuous operation, electrostatic, on-stream separation system currently in use by most major oil companies. Since their introduction in 1979, over 30 systems have been installed at petroleum refineries worldwide.
    • TRIGA, with over 65 facilities in 22 countries, is a supplier of nuclear research reactors for university, industrial, government, and medical applications. Originally designed to meet requirements for operator training, educational programs including nuclear research, and fuel development, TRIGA's design has allowed its usage to be expanded to meet the requirements of application in medical and agricultural research, isotope production, and neutron radiography.
  • ConverDyn - ConverDyn serves the global nuclear industry, offering UF6. They coordinate and manage all aspects of the conversion process for their customers, including uranium deliveries, uranium sampling, materials storage, and product delivery.[6]
  • Cotter Corporation - Cotter Corporation is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Through its various mining and milling operations, Cotter has produced uranium, vanadium, molybdenum, silver, lead, zinc, copper, selenium, nickel, cobalt, tungsten and limestone. Originally incorporated in 1956 in New Mexico as a uranium production company, Cotter was purchased by and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Commonwealth Edison in 1975. GA acquired Cotter in early 2000.[7]
  • Heathgate Resources Pty, Ltd. - Formed in 1990, Heathgate Resources is the owner and operator of the Beverley Uranium Mine in northern South Australia.Beverley is Australia's third uranium mine and Australia's only operating In Situ Leach mine.[8]
  • Nuclear Fuels Corporation - Nuclear Fuels Corporation (NFC) was formed in 1991 by General Atomics (GA) to market uranium produced from GA mining assets as well as to develop additional uranium projects. NFC is a long-term contract supplier to both U.S. and foreign utilities and actively participates in uranium trading. NFC is the marketing representative for other GA affiliates, Heathgate Resources and Cotter Corporation. The company also has an agreement to purchase all uranium recovered by Wismut GmbH from reclamation of the Königstein mine in eastern Germany.[9]
  • Rio Grande Resources Corporation - Rio Grande Resources Corporation controls uranium operations and mineral resources acquired by GA from Chevron Resources in 1991. Included in this acquisition were mines in south Texas and New Mexico. In New Mexico, the Mt. Taylor project, a conventional underground mine that contains the largest uranium resource in the United States, is currently on standby.[10]
  • TRIGA International (with CERCA, a subsidiary of Areva)
  • Spezialtechnik Dresden GmbH - Spezialtechnik Dresden GmbH (STD) stands as holding at the head of the Spezialtechnik-Group Dresden and renders commercially characterized and marketing/sales oriented consulting and support services for the companies of the group.[11]

Educational Outreach

Since 1992, the General Atomics Science Education Outreach Program, a volunteer effort of GA employees and San Diego science teachers, has worked with Science Coordinators for the San Diego Schools to bring the business and research side of science into the classroom. The goal is both to improve the quality of science education and to encourage more students to pursue science careers. In addition, the teachers' interactions with the scientists and exposure to everyday uses of their disciplines help them to be better educators.

In 1995, the program was expanded and the General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation [501(c) (3)] was established. The General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation’s goal is to play a major role in enhancing pre-college education in science, engineering and new technologies. To attain this goal, four areas of core competency at General Atomics were initially selected to form the basis for the development of inquiry-based education modules and associated workshops. Scientist/teacher teams wrote these modules, which fuse the content and methodology of industrial research and development with the teaching skills of experienced science teachers.

Hundreds of teachers attended the initial workshops. Since the first workshops, additional educational modules have been developed and presented to teachers at local, state, and national conferences. Two of the modules developed attracted the interest of professional educational institutes, who have transformed them into educational modules that are being distributed nationally.

  • The Line of Resistance module and the Explorations in Materials Science modules were revised in collaboration with the Institute for Chemical Education (ICE) at the University of Wisconsin. ICE is currently selling these modules nationwide.[12]
  • Flinn Scientific is currently selling the “It’s a Colorful Life” module and associated color materials.

When these workshops are presented at conferences, the General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation supports the printing of various associated materials that are handed out to all participants, as well as the travel expenses of the General Atomics scientist presenters.

The General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation has supported many local education projects such as the PISCES Project and the San Diego Science Festival.[13]


  • 2008 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Company of the Year[14]
  • 2008 Defense News Top 100, Ranked #57[15]
  • Frost & Sullivan 2006 Business Development Strategy Leadership Award, presented for Gains in the Unmanned Aerial Systems Market[16]
  • Shephard Press’ Unmanned Vehicles 2005 UAV Design Innovation Award, presented for Warrior Extended Range/Multi-Purpose UAV
  • Aviation Week 2005 Employer of Choice Finalist, Diversity, Valuing People, Technological Challenge -- Third Best U.S. Aerospace/Defense Employer
  • USAF Association 2004 John R. Alison Award for the most outstanding contributions to national defense by an industrial leader, presented to President/CEO, Thomas J. Cassidy Jr.[17]
  • Aviation Week/AIA 2004 Employer of Choice Finalist, Technological Challenge -- Third Best U.S. Aerospace/Defense Employer
  • Frost & Sullivan 2003 Product Innovation Award, presented for Development of the First Armed UAV, the MQ-1 Predator
  • Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum 2002 Current Achievement Trophy, presented for Predator UAV Development
  • Flight International’s 2002 Aerospace Industry Award, Missiles & Military Aircraft, presented for RQ-1 Predator Hellfire Capability Development
  • Hall of Fame for Engineering, Science & Technology, 2002 U.S. National Inductee, presented to Executive Vice President Frank Pace for UAV Development and Promotion
  • AUVSI’s 2002 Pioneer Award, presented to President/CEO Thomas J. Cassidy Jr.[18]
  • Shephard Press’ Unmanned Vehicles 2001 UAV Design Innovation Award, presented for Jet-powered Predator B Development Aviation Week’s 2001 Laurels Award, presented for Aeronautics/Propulsion
  • USAF’s 2001 Packard Award for Development & Engineering, presented for Predator/Hellfire Integration[19]



Government influence

General Atomics was the single biggest corporate underwriter of Congressional trips between January 2000 and June 2005, according to a nine-month study of congressional travel disclosure forms. The company spent more than $660,000 on 86 trips taken by members of Congress, their aides and families. Most of that was spent on overseas travel related to the unmanned Predator spy plane made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

The company said it had sponsored travel for members of Congress and their staffs "to promote enhanced understanding of General Atomics' technology research and product development." The company also noted that excursions were reviewed by "the appropriate Congressional ethics committees prior to travel."

In April 2002, for example, the company paid for Letitia White, who was then a top aide to Representative Jerry Lewis, and her husband to travel to Italy. White left Lewis' office nine months later, to become a lobbyist at Copeland Lowery. The next day, she began representing General Atomics. Lewis, her former boss, was at the time chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee.[20]

Other controversy

In 2001, the company was sued for allegedly overcharging the U.S. government for projects between 1992 and 2001.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "Profile: General Atomics"
  2. ^ "Unmanned aircraft pioneer Thomas J. Cassidy Jr. retires" accessed 16 March 2010
  3. ^ [1] General Atomics Aeronautical Systems web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  4. ^ [2] "General Atomics Electronic Systems web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  5. ^ [3] "About General Atomics Electronic Systems Inc., accessed 2 Feb 2010"
  6. ^ [4] "ConverDyn web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  7. ^ [5] "Cotter Corporation web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  8. ^ [6] "Heathgate Resources web site, accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  9. ^ [7] "Nuclear Fuels Corporation, accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  10. ^ [8] Rio Grande Resources Corporation, accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  11. ^ [9] Spezialtechnik Dresden and Subsidiaries , accessed 19 Jan 2010"
  12. ^ [ "ICE Catalog, accessed 14 Oct 2009"
  13. ^ "Sciences Education Foundation Background Information"
  14. ^ "Frost & Sullivan Recognizes GA-ASI as the Outstanding Provider of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Tactical Reconnaissance Radars for the U.S. Armed Forces"
  15. ^ "Firms Seek Strategies for Riding Out Downturn"
  16. ^ "GA-ASI Earns Frost & Sullivan’s Recognition for Business Development Strategy Leadership for Gains in Unmanned Aerial Systems Market"
  17. ^ "Air Force Association Announces 2004 Aerospace Award Recipients"
  18. ^ "AUVSI Foundation Awards Program"
  19. ^ "General Atomics Media Information"
  20. ^ "Report: Trips buy 'access that you and I can't get'"
  21. ^ "General Atomics: Color It Blue"

External links

Coordinates: 32°53′37″N 117°14′04″W / 32.893721°N 117.234550°W / 32.893721; -117.234550


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