WASHINGTON — Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Edward Fortunato was hired as senior vice president of government affairs at ATK, the Magna, Utah, company in the process of merging with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia.

Fortunato joins ATK after six years with Honeywell Aerospace of Phoenix, where he was most recently director of government relations in Washington. He will remain in Washington with ATK, where he will manage the company’s government relations activities at the federal and state levels, according to a Dec. 2 ATK press release.

ATK spokeswoman Amanda Covington said via email that Fortunato is also expected to run government affairs for the combined companies.

“The plan is that Ed will also lead government relations for the proposed merger: ATK Orbital,” Covington wrote.

The combined Orbital ATK will be headquartered in Dulles at Orbital’s current corporate headquarters. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s founder and chief executive, will become chief executive of the combined company.

Orbital and ATK expect their merger to close around February. The transaction was cleared by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department Dec. 4, but still must pass muster with the companies’ shareholders, who are scheduled to vote Jan. 27.

Orbital Sciences’ government affairs are currently managed by Kate Kronmiller, who joined Orbital as vice president of government relations in 2011 after 10 years as head of government affairs for United Space Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that operated NASA’s space shuttle fleet.

Fortunato succeeds Bill Johnson, who left ATK in July after about one month as head of government affairs. Johnson was a replacement for Steven Cortese, who left ATK in 2013 after about seven years with the company, including two years as senior vice president for government affairs.

Dan Leone is a SpaceNews staff writer, covering NASA, NOAA and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public communications from the American University in Washington.