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Satellite launch from Kodiak facility delayed by March crash of similar rocket off Calif.

Posted: April 26, 2011 - 7:25pm

KODIAK — The Kodiak Launch Complex’s scheduled May satellite blastoff has been delayed by a NASA investigation because a rocket similar to the one that would be used crashed after takeoff in March.

NASA has grounded the Minotaur IV rocket due to its similarities to the Taurus XL rocket, which crashed after the nose fairing failed to detach from the rocket and made it too heavy to leave the atmosphere. That rocket had launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The launch delay was also affected by a planned rocket launch from another aerospace facility in Virginia, meaning the Kodiak launch may not happen until summer or fall, according to the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

Alaska Aerospace Corporation CEO Dale Nash said he was confident in the rocket used for the May launch, which shares a manufacturer and some components with the rocket used in the failed one.

“They want to make sure there’s really no correlation or any like issues with the rocket here,” Nash said of NASA’s investigation.

The launch complex on Kodiak Island is looking for new funding sources after a contract with the Missile Defense Agency ended last year. The corporation has asked the state Legislature for money for its operations.

Corporation president Craig Campbell said he expected a partnership between state and federal government within the next year, and is also a new contract for missile defense in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

Work on that contract would take place at Vandenberg and at Fort Greely near Fairbanks, and could potentially double the corporation’s staffing to 100 people.

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