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Launch scheduled for next year from Kodiak

Posted: November 26, 2013 - 1:00am

KODIAK — Things are looking up for the financially troubled Alaska Aerospace Corp.

The Kodiak Launch Complex has one launch scheduled next year, and it’s pursuing three more in future years.

The announcement was made at the state-owned corporation’s board meeting in Anchorage, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

“Things are coming in,” said the corporation’s chief operations officer, Mark Greby.

He declined to say which companies have expressed interest in launching from Kodiak’s Narrow Cape spaceport. The board went into executive session to discuss the details.

CEO Craig Campbell said they have been aggressive about securing other contracts over the last three months, and they are looking at drone flights and monitoring the launches from other spaceports.

“We can do a lot more than just launch government rockets out of Kodiak,” Campbell said.

They may not land all the contracts being pursued, but Greby said the intent is to have as many potential customers as possible.

“We’ve got people coming in the door now,” he said. “We’ll get some of them.”

The corporation is facing financial pressure from the Alaska Legislature to come up with commercial launches to balance state subsidies.

The state created the Alaska Aerospace Corp. in 1991 to develop an aerospace sector for Alaska’s economy. The Kodiak Launch Complex was built to compete with Vandenberg Spaceport in California.

The corporation was able to pay for operations from its launches with federal grants. But for the past two years, the Alaska corporation had to rely on state subsidies.

Lawmakers have said there would have to be a commercial launch contract before approving any more money. It wasn’t immediately clear if the 2014 launch qualifies.

Campbell said the market for medium-lift launches hasn’t been as optimistic as small-lift launches.

The corporation’s plans to add a third launch pad at the Kodiak facility have slowed by lack of commercial interest. The proposed pad would be for medium-lift rockets.

Orbital Sciences, a potential partner in the third pad expansion, likely won’t make a decision on a West Coast launch site any time soon, Campbell said.

The company is focused on operations at Wallops Flight Station in Virginia, and Campbell said the company believes it can send satellites into polar orbit from there instead of Kodiak.

Campbell said Alaska Aerospace still may be able to support that by monitoring launches.

“If we’re not going to get them coming to Alaska, we’d like to at least get part of the business they’re going to be doing on the East Coast,” Campbell said.

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