ATK, Orbital Clear Hurdle. ATK says that its pending merger with Orbital Sciences unconditionally cleared government regulatory review. The Federal Trace Commission informed the companies on Thursday that it and the Department of Justice terminated the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period to review the transaction. The companies continue to expect the merger to close in February 2015 after meeting remaining closing conditions, including approvals by their respective shareholders at separate meetings slated for Jan. 27, 2015.

Barber, Landrieu Fates Settled Soon. HASC member Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) and Republican opponent Martha McSally officially entered their election recount on Dec. 3, with McSally holding a 161-vote lead. The process will take two weeks and involve a test of the county computer systems used, a machine recount and a hand recount of 5 percent of precincts randomly selected, according to local media. State officials must declare a winner by Dec. 16. Also awaiting her fate is Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who serves on the appropriations and homeland security and governmental affairs committees. Landrieu and opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) head to a runoff on Dec. 6 after neither candidate won a majority of votes in the general election–Landrieu took 42 percent and Cassidy received 41 percent.

Border Bill. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says his committee will try in the next Congress to get a bill passed on border security.  McCaul, at a hearing this week on border security and immigration policy, tells Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that his committee will work with him on a bill. He also says that he believes the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), “feels the same way.”

…Plug for Aerostats. Earlier in the hearing, Johnson tells Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) that the Border Patrol is big on having aerostats as part of the border security equation. “When I talk to the Border Patrol myself, the one thing they mention always, aerostats. So I believe that’s a border security priority.” Barber says that the aerostats, equipped with ground surveillance radar, are useful at “looking down into the mountains to see where the smugglers are coming from.” He also wants more mobile surveillance systems at the border and horse patrols for use in rugged terrain.

Coast Guard Bill. The House on Wednesday passed by a vote of 413-3, legislation to reauthorize the Coast Guard. The bill was crafted by representatives and senators in conference and the Senate is expected to take the measure up shortly. “This bill helps provide the men and women of the Coast Guard with the resources they need to do their jobs and make our waterways safe,” says Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Audit Contracts. The Defense Department awards contracts to independent public accounting firms to conduct audits of current year appropriated funds, better known as the schedule of budgetary activity (SBA). The $13 million contract for the Army audit was awarded to KPMG on Dec. 1, the Air Force’s $14 million audit contract was awarded to Ernst & Young on Dec. 2 and the $10 million Navy audit contract was given to Cotton & Company on Dec. 3. The firms will begin these audits in January following an initial planning period with final audit results not expected until November 2015. DoD spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban says in an email the Pentagon’s ultimate goal is to achieve full audit readiness by the end of fiscal year 2017. Subsequent contracts will be required as the scope of coverage, Urban says.

F-35 Contracts. The Navy on Nov. 26 awards Lockheed Martin a pair of F-35 contracts worth a total of $556 million, according to a DoD statement. The Navy awards a $492 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to provide non-air vehicle spares, support equipment, Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) hardware and software upgrades and supply chain management. The contract also provides full mission simulators and non-recurring engineering services to support low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot VII F-35 aircraft for both U.S. and international partners. The other contract, worth $64 million, is a contract modification for 14 F-35A vehicles for the Air Force and the Netherlands as well as 13 F-35B aircraft for the Marine Corps and the United Kingdom. The F-35 is developed by Lockheed Martin with subcontractors BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. DF-ST-87-06962

Boeing ICBM Contract. The Air Force awarded Boeing a $47 million contract to continue repairing and supplying the guidance systems for the Minuteman III, according to a company statement. Under the deal, Boeing will serve as sole provider of the maintenance and sustainment services on the NS50 guidance system, which Boeing calls the navigational heart of the ICBM. Since 1998, Boeing has maintained the guidance systems in Heath, Ohio, ensuring spares are available for flight tests and nuclear harness testing.

Boeing CCtCap. NASA approves completion of Boeing’s first milestone in the company’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract, according to a company statement. The certification baseline review (CBR) establishes a baseline design of the Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket and associated ground and mission operations systems. Boeing also demonstrates in its review how the CST-100 will connect with the International Space Station (ISS) and how it plans to train NASA astronauts to fly the CST-100 in orbit. CCtCap, which also has Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) on contract, is to deliver astronauts to ISS.