29 September 2014

28 September 2014: Kodiak Resident Comments on Launch Pad 3 Draft Environmental Assessment

September 28th, 2014

To: Ms. Stacey Zee – FAA, c/o ICF International, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031

Dear Ms. Zee,

Comments on the Kodiak Launch Complex Launch Pad 3 Draft Environmental Assessment.

I am completely opposed to any further development of the Kodiak Launch Complex at Narrow Cape. Public access to public land, public safety, cumulative environmental impacts, the past negligence of due diligence by the AK Aerospace Corporation, natural resource degradation and contamination, unjustified cost to the state, lack of clear vision or business plan, questionable economic sustainability, and impacts on rare plant species in the area are among my many concerns.

Kodiak has been my home since 1980 and I have been actively interested in the details of this facility since the very beginning when there was a public advisory committee. That committee was disbanded very quickly after members of the public, including myself, raised concerns and questions that former CEO, Pat Ladner, did not want to answer. Rather than be transparent with the intended purpose of military launches, he fed the public with promises of commercial satellite launches and bringing our little fishing village into the 21st Century with high tech jobs and reeducation for unemployed fisherman.

We were also told that public access would be guaranteed, and there would never be more volatile and toxic liquid rocket fuels or fissionable nuclear materials used.

From the start, the AAC (formerly the AADC) has lacked any real long- term business plan. All they have ever had for a business plan is, “Build it and they will come.” Even our state representative, Rep Alan Austerman, who was also an AAC board member, was quoted in the Kodiak Daily Mirror recently saying that the KLC has no business plan. There have only been 17 launches since 1998 and 15 of those successful. There has been so little business and generated revenue to sustain their operations, the state has had kick in millions of dollars annually to keep it open. Unlike General Motors, the KLC has never been a viable business to justify government subsidy. With a dwindling state budget, I just can’t see the justification for more corporate bail out for Space Pork Kodiak.

My husband and I live in Kodiak and also live part of the time at Pasagshak that is within the circles of impact in your EA document. We are very familiar with the area and natural resources surrounding the KLC as that has been our backyard playground and grocery store since the early 1980’s. We live a subsistence lifestyle and that is where we get our fish, deer and berries for the freezer. As most Pasagshak residents, we collect rainwater for drinking water off our rooftop as wells are brackish. We are concerned about perchlorate and other contamination of drinking water, berries, fish and the deer that graze on the grass on Narrow Cape.

The KLC was built on some of the only public land along our road system and perhaps the choicest piece. Most roadside property is privately owned by Native Corporations with limitations on public access. It was a very poor choice for the location of the KLC as it also happens to be one of the most beautiful and popular recreational destinations.  It was a very impractical choice as it is at the extreme opposite end of a narrow, winding road for safely, efficiently, and the all-season transporting of rockets and related materials. What were they thinking?

The well documented, geologic instability and activity of the area with major, shallow earthquake faults running through Narrow Cape should be enough to nullify the entire plan of increasing the infrastructure of the KLC and especially, introducing a liquid fueling facility. Had a proper EIS been done initially before the KLC was built, this data alone would have shown what an irresponsible location Narrow Cape is for such a facility!

Some of the recreational activities that have been and will be impacted include: hiking, fishing, birding, photography, whale watching, beach combing, surfing, botanizing, camping, ice skating in winter on backwater lagoons, wildlife watching, tide pooling, fossil collecting, and general nature appreciation.

Our late senator Ted Stevens managed to get the KLC built with federal money and without having to jump through the hoops of a thorough EIS that it deserved, thanks to a rider he secretly attached to a Sunset Transportation bill.  He and the military promoters knew that area had far too many environmental issues and would probably never have been built had it gone through the customary process. So, there is really very little reliable baseline data on that area and its resources since all of the studies were done quickly after the fact with money from the military by hand picked government contractors that just went through the motions.

Since the rocket accident on August 25th, the area has been completely cut off to the public and we have been told next to nothing about the impacts, contamination issues, clean up efforts or when it will reopen. Solid rocket fuel contains perchlorates, normally discharged in rocket exhaust, but since the fuel blew up, it was scattered all over the area. Perchlorate contamination in the environment has been extensively studied as it has effects on human health. Among the health impacts, perchlorate has been linked to its negative influence on the thyroid and can block hormone production in people and wildlife.  Exposure to perchlorates has also been linked to various cancers. And this, among other contaminants, is what has been and will be added to the environment of this public recreational area in the future.

How can you even begin to evaluate the cumulative impacts of a third launch pad and the accuracy of your environmental data before knowing the compounded levels of contamination that resulted from previous launches, the August 25th accident and without reliable baseline data?

The location of proposed Launch Pad 3 is located on a ridge on the south side of the public road leading down to Fossil Beach. Presently, all of the KLC structures are on the north side. If built, this would extend the footprint and area of impact as well as straddle the public road.  That would give the KLC and AAC even more reason to block it off and maintain complete control over the area. This is unacceptable!
If there is to be more construction, it should be confined to the north side of the road so that public access is guaranteed to Fossil Beach and Narrow Cape. Why spread out the impacts more than necessary?  I have read the geologic justification for the preferred location but do not think others on the north side were adequately evaluated or considered, especially in respect to the public access issue.

At present, we can’t even access the beautiful long beaches to the north of the KLC.

And what about the damaged facility? Who will pay for the repairs and mitigation?

As a real, viable alternative for the EIS, why not consider dismantling the entire KLC?

How can the construction costs of yet another launch pad be justified with so few launches in the past, no contracts on the horizon, and in the aftermath of the accident, the rising cleanup costs? And, at the expense of such valuable public land!

In closing, the best option for the KLC is to dismantle it, not to expand it.

29 September 2014: FAA Draft EA for Launch Pad 3 Call for Comments, Public Meeting

Dear Recipient –

In compliance with FAA policy and procedures (Order 1050.1E, Change 1) for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the FAA has initiated a public review and comment period for the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Kodiak Launch Complex Launch Pad 3 (Draft EA).  The Draft EA also is available on the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation website at: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/environmental/nepa_docs/review/documents_progress/kodiak_launch/[[
[Note – the full Draft EA will be posted on the website by 9/16]

The FAA encourages all interested parties to provide comments concerning the scope and content of the Draft EA by October 15, 2014.  Comments should be as specific as possible and address the analysis of potential environmental impacts and the adequacy of the Proposed Action or merits of alternatives, and the mitigation being considered.  Reviewers should organize their comments to be meaningful and inform the FAA of their interests and concerns quoting or providing specific references to the text of the Draft EA. Matters that could have been raised with specificity during the Draft EA public comment period might not be considered if they are raised for the first time later in the decision process.  This commenting procedure is intended to ensure that the FAA receives substantive comments and concerns in time to address them in a Final EA.

The FAA will hold an open house public meeting on October 7, 2014, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.in the Katurwik Room of the Kodiak Inn Best Western, located at 236 E Rezanof Drive, Kodiak. The public will be able to speak to project representatives one-on-one and submit written comments or provide oral comments to a stenographer.

Please submit comments in writing to Stacey M. Zee, Federal Aviation Administration, c/o ICF International, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031.  Comments may also be submitted via e-mail to FAAKodiakEA@icfi.com

For any media inquiries, please contact Hank Price at 202-267-3447.

Stacey M. Zee
Office of Commercial Space Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20591

16 September 2014

Juneau Empire Op-ed Piece Says It All - Why It Is Time to Close the Kodiak Launch Complex

Empire Editorial: Waking up from Alaska's aerospace dream

Posted: August 29, 2014 - 12:05am

When your head is in the clouds, it’s easy to lose track of your feet.
On Monday, the 17th rocket since 1998 lifted off from the state-owned Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island. Four seconds after leaving the launchpad, the rocket exploded.
The blast damaged the complex — how extensively we do not yet know — and it may be a sign that it’s time to give up on the dream of an Alaskan aerospace industry.
Rather than use insurance payouts to rebuild the complex, Alaska Aerospace should consider using that money to demolish it.
When it was envisioned in the 1990s, the Kodiak Launch Complex was to be the centerpiece of a new branch to Alaska’s economy. Built with federal grant money secured by Sen. Ted Stevens, the launch complex would welcome rockets and satellites bound for polar orbits.
The companies that launch satellites need contractors, and they would turn to Alaskans, much as Alaska’s oil industry is served by a family tree of oilfield service companies.
Unfortunately, Alaska’s aerospace dream stubbed its toe on the doorjamb of reality.
Kodiak Launch Complex hasn’t been able to compete with launches from Vandenberg in California, and private companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic haven’t shown much interest in launches from Alaska.
The problem has to do with the market.
The Kodiak launchpad can only fly small rockets, and it’s best suited for delivering satellites to polar orbits, ones that go north to south. Equatorial orbits, which run west to east, are more popular among commercial companies. That limits Kodiak to the military market and the market for polar science satellites.
A contract with the Missile Defense Agency was lucrative for Alaska Aerospace and the Kodiak Launch Complex, but that contract ended years ago and federal budget cuts mean little is available to replace it.
Three years ago, Alaska Aerospace (the state-owned corporation that operates Kodiak Launch Complex) began asking the Alaska Legislature for cash to make ends meet. This year, the corporation received $6 million in operating expenses and $2.4 million for capital costs.
We like the idea of an Alaskan aerospace industry, and we like Alaska Aerospace. It’s nice to dream about the Last Frontier becoming the gateway to the Final Frontier. Unfortunately, the market hasn’t matched our dreams.
After this week’s failure, no more launches are on Kodiak’s calendar.
Alaska Aerospace isn’t a failure of imagination. It’s not a failure of hard work or drive. It’s not the Delta Barley Project or the Alaska Seafood International plant. If the state gave up on Alaska Aerospace today, it would walk away having brought millions of dollars in economic development to Anchorage and Kodiak.
Dreams are wonderful, but you always have to wake up.
• Empire editorials are written by the Juneau Empire’s editorial board. Members include Publisher Rustan Burton, rustan.burton@juneauempire.com; Director of Audience Abby Lowell, abby.lowell@juneauempire.com; Managing Editor Charles L. Westmoreland, charles.westmoreland@juneauempire.com; and Asst. Editor James Brooks, james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.

25 August 2014

25 Aug 2014: Rocket Explodes at Kodiak Launch Complex - Launch Fails

Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Narrow Cape area beyond the Kodiak Launch Complex will remain closed to the public until further notice after this morning’s rocket explosion, according to an announcement from the Alaska Aerospace Corporation.
Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann said the U.S. Army rocket self-destructed just four seconds into its flight, at about 12:25 this (Monday) morning.
“Shortly after 4 a.m. EDT, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, as part of the Defense Department’s Conventional Prompt Global Strike technology development program, conducted a flight test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska,” she said. “Due to an anomaly, the test was terminated near the launch pad shortly after lift-off to ensure public safety. There were no injuries to any personnel. Program officials are conducting an extensive investigation to determine the cause of the flight anomaly.”
It was the first launch at the KLC in three years.  No future launches have been announced at this time.
Alaska Aerospace CEO Craig Campbell said he couldn’t verify where debris from the rocket came down, but Schumann said it was her understanding that the debris is limited to KLC property and did not fall into the water. The three-stage solid-fuel rocket is based on refurbished Polaris intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Campbell said it did not appear, from a preliminary estimate, that there was any extensive damage to the Kodiak Launch Complex, but said AAC and Department of Defense personnel will be doing damage assessments all day.
Kodiak resident Stacy Studebaker, who owns a home in nearby Pasagshak, has long been a critic of the Kodiak Launch Complex. She said in an e-mail to KMXT that she wanted to know what kind of hazards any un-burnt rocket fuel posed and who will be conducting the clean up. Two popular recreation areas are adjacent to the KLC, Fossil Beach, which remains off-limits, and Surfer Beach.
In the nosecone of the rocket was the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which is a rocket-launched glider capable of flying at over 3,500 mph, or Mach 5. According to the Army’s description, the small craft is designed to be lofted nearly into space before separation and then glide through the atmosphere to its target at hypersonic speeds. If developed, it is expected to be able to hit any target on earth within an hour or less with conventional, non-nuclear explosives.
This was to be the second test of the glider. Its target was the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. The first was successfully launched from Hawaii.
Scott Wight, a Kodiak photographer, was watching the launch from Cape Greville in Chiniak, about a dozen miles from the launch site. He said even at that distance the explosion was very loud. Another photographer at Cape Greville said the launch looked out of control and that she wasn’t surprised to find out it self-destructed. She said the resulting fire burned brightly for a short while.
The Kodiak Launch Complex is about 25-miles from the city of Kodiak.

26 February 2014

Alaska Legislature Funding Kodiak Launch Complex is a Waste of Money

Dear Legislator:
      This message is written on behalf of the Kodiak Rocket Launch Information Group to explain why it is time to stop pouring money into the black hole that is the Kodiak Launch Complex.  KRLIG was formed in 1995 as an ad hoc group of Kodiak residents who were frustrated with Alaska Aerospace's lack of information and refusal to answer questions about the, at that time, proposed KLC.   As we corresponded with scientists, business people, and others around the country connected to the aerospace industry, our extensive research made it apparent that a rocket launching facility in Kodiak would NEVER pay for itself - a fact that has proven to be true.  It was at this point (1996 or 97) that more and more Kodiak residents opposed what came to be known locally as  "Space Pork Kodiak". A few years ago, an AAC official admitted to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly that launch revenues had never covered the costs of keeping the facility open. 
     Some legislators have used the term "federally funded asset" in relation to the KLC; this phrase is somewhat misleading.  A more accurate term would be, "Ted Stevens funded asset".  When AAC went to AIDEA for a construction loan in the '90s, they were told not to come back until they could prove they would have the business to pay it back.  This never happened because they could not show they would have sufficient launches to pay back a loan and, more importantly, Senator Ted Stevens (at that time on the Senate Appropriations Committee) pushed through unwanted funding to USAF/DoD for initial construction - 40 million dollars, as I recall.  
      Here is a link to a story that explains what happened:  http://kodiaklaunchcomplex.blogspot.com/2008/12/klc-wasnt-wanted-by-military.html      This story appeared in  the Kodiak Daily Mirror in 2008. 
      Here is an article from the NY Times from about the same time documenting the USAF opposition to funding the KLC:  http://kodiaklaunchcomplex.blogspot.com/2008/10/incontrovertible-proof-that-klc-is.html
     Since 1998, AAC has been entirely dependent on state and federal funds just to keep the KLC open.  I am sure that you will hear from them this year that "several companies are interested in launches and contracts are imminent".  They have repeated that mantra for at least fifteen years with few results.  They will tout their "partnerships" as proof they are major players in the launch industry.  Well, without actual launch contracts they are not what they pretend to be.
       As long as Ted Stevens was in the Senate, the federal funds flowed; once he was out, it wasn't long until the Missile Defense Agency canceled the contract that essentially paid the costs of the KLC just to keep it open in case they wanted to launch a target missile.
    You may also hear claims along the "build it and they will come" line......another ploy AAC has used for years to continue to build more infrastructure requiring more money for maintenance, yet not really acquiring launch contracts. Keep in mind that every launch from the KLC has been paid for by federal government agencies - most have been military-funded launches.  Not one private entity has ever paid to launch a rocket in Kodiak.
    The last launch was September 26, 2011, and as of February 9, 2014,  there are no launches listed for 2014 on their website.  We don't know many businesses that can or should survive when, in almost three years,  they don't perform the service for which they were created.  Funding of the KLC is simply corporate welfare.
    The KLC was built on false premises, a non-existent (or fantasy) business plan, and now just sucks state funding for high salaries for its corporate officers (who do not reside in Kodiak) and maintenance for an ocean side facility that is quickly rusting away.  AAC will claim that they are bringing income and jobs to Kodiak.  This simply not true except when there is construction going on which provides short-term benefits although often the workers are from off-island or even out of state.
     Finally, it is my understanding that AAC has been paying a monthly stipend of $15,000 to the owner of the Narrow Cape Lodge which is used for lodging launch-related personnel;  it has been empty for the nearly three years since the last launch at the KLC.  We have learned that a legislator is trying to get state funds for AAC to purchase the "Space Hotel", which would mean even higher costs for them to maintain the KLC.  This purchase would be a waste of our dwindling state funds.
    Alaska Legislators, thank you for your attention to this issue.  It really is time to stop wasting money on this state boondoggle and close it down.   We have better and more productive uses for state money than the "Launch Pad to Nowhere". 
 We urge you to take action to stop this unrecoverable loss from our dwindling state coffers.  We look forward to your reply and thank you for your service to our state.

08 November 2013

8 Nov 2013: Alaska Aerospace Response to Kodiak Residents' Comments on Proposed Pasagshak Barge Dock

The barge landing proposed by Alaska Aerospace is for medium-sized rockets; AAC has no contracts or firm commitments to launch any such rockets at this time.  As you read this letter, note that in point #5 Mr. Greby makes reference to the "true community"; apparently Kodiak residents who took the time to write and submit comments are not to be considered the "true community".  A PDF file of all comments is available by emailing kodiakrocketlaunch@gmail.com
Apologies for the formatting - it appears to be fine in the draft page, but when published, strange line breaks appeared.
-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Greby [mailto:mark.greby@akaerospace.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 19, 2013 9:28 AM
To: Laura Gurley; Roberta K POA Budnik
Cc: John Cramer; Jeffrey Roberts; John Zbitnoff
Subject: Public Meeting on Pasagshak Barge Landing
Dear Laura and Roberta,
Alaska Aerospace Corporation will be happy to host a public forum session about our Barge
Landing permitting. Our Public Affairs officer, John Cramer, is out of pocket through next
week, so I'd like to postpone specific scheduling and planning until after he returns to the
office. Our target timeline would be the latter part of October to ensure we have done our
research on the questions already received and allow time for arranging the venue. We truly
want to be open and fair to the entire Kodiak community, and never be seen as "rushing to
judgment" or avoiding contact.
Some thoughts:
1. We do want a Corps of Engineer rep at the meeting so it is seen by all as open and fair.
2. We do want our Public Affairs Officer (VP, Chief of Admin) to work with the CoE about
timing and format of the session. We don't do these often, and would like to benefit from
their (your? <grin>) expertise.
3. The great majority of the comments received seemed to be a very vocal group of folks from
Pasagshak who do not want a boat landing on public property because someone other than them
may actually use it. We would like to discuss appropriate meeting formats to ensure that
those folks get heard, but not allow the public forum to be hijacked by a few folks. The AK
and Kodiak communities can be very entertainingly vocal.
4. We think the public forum should be structured to provide the design, clarify any factual
misunderstandings, and collect comments. We do not believe that this is the correct forum
for a debate or rant by either sides about relative merit.
5. I know the CoE has dealt with groups whose voice and presence is disproportionate to the
true community, and we'd like to discuss how they measure and evaluate that input.
I'm on the road today, and I'll give Laura a call on Friday to follow up. Thanks for the
help so far!
Mark Greby
Alaska Aerospace Corporation

22 April 2013

Launch or Lose Funding Ultimatum Given to Alaska Aerospace

Legislature pressures Alaska Aerospace to launch
by James Brooks/ editor@kodiakdailymirror.com
Apr 22, 2013
On Sunday afternoon, a rocket soared to orbit from a launch pad on Virginia, a successful launch that may mean good news for the Kodiak Launch Complex 4,000 miles away.

This spring, the Alaska Legislature voted to cut 1 percent (about $80,000) from the Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s FY2014 funding. Hidden within the funding for Alaska Aerospace — which operates the Kodiak Launch Complex — is a catch.

If Alaska Aerospace does not sign a long-term commercial launch contract by March 31, 2014, the legislature will cut its budget by one-quarter.

That’s below the amount AAC leaders have said is necessary to maintain the Kodiak Launch Complex and keep AAC running as a viable corporation, but AAC CEO Craig Campbell said he’s confident his company can meet the challenge.

“I concurred with the challenge that we need to produce a customer in the next fiscal year,” he said. “They actually gave us a little breathing room.”

Alaska Aerospace Corporation was founded by the state in 1991 as a means to develop the aerospace sector of Alaska’s economy. It built the Kodiak Launch Complex to compete with California’s Vandenberg Spaceport, which launches satellites into polar orbits.

While the first years of AAC’s operation were funded through revenue from launches and grants from the federal government, since 2011 AAC has become reliant upon regular state subsidies.

In 2011, the Legislature approved $4 million for AAC. In 2012, it signed off on $8 million in direct subsidies. That year, Governor Sean Parnell also approved $25 million to expand Kodiak Launch Complex.

Legislators approved another $8 million this year for AAC, but cut the corporation’s funding request by 1 percent, paralleling similar cuts to other state departments.

Rep. Alan Austerman, who represents Kodiak in the state House and sits on the AAC board of directors, said legislators’ patience is running out. “We can’t just let it continue to go on and on and on,” he said.

Campbell said AAC can bear this year’s cut, but he now faces a tight deadline to generate revenue and wean the public corporation off state funding.

Sunday’s launch in Virginia shows one possible way forward. The launch came from Wallops Flight Facility, a state-owned spaceport run by Dale Nash, who headed Alaska Aerospace before Campbell.

The rocket, named Antares, was designed and built by Orbital Sciences, which has not yet picked a West Coast launch site for the Antares. Kodiak is in the running, as is Vandenberg.

Launching the Antares from Kodiak would require a major expansion of the spaceport here, something already planned under an agreement with Lockheed-Martin.

Lockheed, however, has been slow to sell space aboard the rockets it plans to launch from Kodiak, and planning for the Launchpad expansion has stalled. Unless Lockheed can confirm a launch date, Campbell has said he will not put state money at risk by expanding the Kodiak Launch Complex.

Orbital Sciences offers a second route. Because the Antares launch Sunday was successful, that rocket may be more attractive than Lockheed’s to satellite owners who want to reach orbit.

The ball is in Orbital Sciences’ court, but Alaska Aerospace isn’t sitting still.

As it waits for an answer from Orbital and Lockheed, the state-owned corporation is negotiating contracts for smaller rockets that can be launched from Kodiak’s existing launchpads.

“I think I’m going to have one in the near term, this year,” Campbell said.

Campbell’s optimism is matched by Sen. Gary Stevens, who formerly sat on AAC’s board of directors and represents Kodiak in the Alaska Senate. “I think you'll find that in the next two years they'll have some successful projects and some successful launches,” he said. “I think it’ll show that they’re in the market and they can successfully compete.”

Until a company signs on the dotted line, however, AAC will continue to move closer to March 31, a date that might be its final countdown.

As of April 22, it has been 573 days since the last launch at the KLC.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

Read more: Kodiak Daily Mirror - Legislature pressures Alaska Aerospace to launch

04 December 2012

Air Force awards up to $900 million in launch contracts


Posted: December 4, 2012

The U.S. Air Force has selected SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corp., and Lockheed Martin Corp. to launch small military satellites on multiple missions through 2017, the Defense Department announced Monday.

File photo of a Minotaur 4 rocket on the launch pad at Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

The contract allows the Pentagon to select the companies to launch small satellites and other space missions.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, Orbital's Minotaur rocket family, and Lockheed Martin's Athena launcher will be available to launch the satellites.
The contract is worth up to $900 million, according to the Pentagon.
The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract permits SpaceX, Orbital Sciences and Lockheed Martin to compete for individual launches. The Air Force will select one provider for each mission.
The Rocket Systems Launch Program contract runs until Nov. 29, 2017. It extends an expiring Orbital/Suborbital Program contract between the Air Force and Orbital Sciences, which has launched satellites on 13 Minotaur rockets since 2000.
The Minotaur rocket family is comprised of decommissioned Minuteman and Peacekeeper missile stages.
SpaceX and Lockheed Martin will join Orbital Sciences in the next phase of the contract.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which has launched four times for NASA's commercial cargo transportation program, is being upgraded to launch satellites for NASA, commercial and military customers.
So far, SpaceX has not been awarded a contract for a U.S. military launch.
Lockheed Martin is reviving its Athena rocket line in partnership with ATK Space Systems, the builder of Athena's solid-fueled rocket motors.
United Launch Alliance, the joint launch services firm formed by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin, was prohibited from competing for the RSLP contract. ULA builds and operates the Atlas and Delta rocket fleets under the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program for launches of large, higher-priority military communications, surveillance, and navigation satellites.
The first task orders expected to be awarded under the RSLP contract are the Space Test Program 2 and Deep Space Climate Observatory missions, according to Peggy Hodge, a spokesperson at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, home of the military's space procurement division.

19 November 2012

Kodiak Launch Complex expansion faces delay

KODIAK (AP) — Alaska Aerospace Corporation's plans for a new launch pad have been delayed, not canceled.
In a four-hour board meeting Thursday at the Kodiak Launch Complex, CEO Craig Campbell confirmed that Lockheed-Martin's delays in finding customers for a new, larger Kodiak-launched rocket means at least a one-year delay in construction of Launch Pad 3.
"Now we're projecting into the 2015 period for the launch of the Athena III," Campbell said.
That timeline means construction will not begin until next summer at the earliest.
Work isn't standing still on the project that has been hailed as the future of the Narrow Cape complex. Campbell told board members he's keeping the ball moving on the environmental assessment that must take place before the launch pad can be built. "We expect that to roll forward in the next couple months, then go out to a public comment period," he said.
During the last session of the Alaska Legislature, Gov. Sean Parnell pledged $25 million in state support for the $125 million estimated cost of the launch pad. Financial "gates" are built in to that amount, ensuring Alaska Aerospace cannot move forward with construction and design until a contract is in hand and private financing in place.
Campbell said he has added restrictions of his own and will spend no more than $1 million until Lockheed commits to a launch date and signs a contract.
That amount takes the project to about 65 percent of design, but not engineering work, Campbell said.
The corporation stopped deliberately short of detailed engineering in an attempt to accommodate Orbital Sciences, another space company that has expressed an interest in launching from Kodiak.
Orbital's Antares rocket is designed differently than Lockheed's Athena III, and the new launch pad would need extra equipment to serve both rockets. Orbital is considering both Kodiak and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as its West Coast launch site for the Antares, but it is not expected to decide between the two until early next year, after it launches its first Antares from a spaceport in Virginia.
"I don't want to get into an engineering and design concept for a solid-based rocket only to find out Orbital is coming here with a liquid-based rocket," Campbell said.
While the delay may pay off for Kodiak if another customer is willing to spend millions for permission to launch rockets from Alaska, the slow pace of development could continue if Congress drags its feet on the federal budget.
The vast majority of America's space projects are at least partially funded by the federal government, and Congress' inability to pass a new defense budget means multibillion-dollar contractors like Lockheed and Orbital don't know how much they can sell. That, in turn, means those companies don't know how many rockets they need to launch from places like Kodiak.
In addition, said Alaska Aerospace chief operating officer Mark Greby, companies like Orbital and Lockheed are awaiting the results of November's presidential election. President Barack Obama and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney have similar space policies, but a few percent difference in funding represents hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, Greby said. "In all honesty, they're all stalling to see which way the climate is going."
Until that weather forecast changes, Launch Pad 3 looks to be stuck in the cold.
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

Read more: http://www.alaskajournal.com/Alaska-Journal-of-Commerce/October-Issue-1-2012/Kodiak-Launch-Complex-expansion-faces-delay/#ixzz2C8OCyBkr

16 November 2012

Alaska Aerospace lays off 5 Kodiak-based workers

August 21, 2012
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Aerospace Corp. has laid off five workers, or 20 percent of its Kodiak workforce, after a launch was delayed a year to 2014.
Interim CEO Craig Campbell tells the Kodiak Daily Mirror (http://is.gd/9wH8uH) that the corporation also must stay within its $8 million budget set by the Alaska Legislature.
The layoffs included an engineer, a safety officer, two technicians and a scheduler, all based at the Kodiak launch complex.
The layoffs do not alter the corporation's plans to expand for use by larger rockets. Once those launches are scheduled, Campbell anticipates refilling the positions.
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

13 November 2012

AAC Hires Help to Try to Obtain Launches

ProPricer Delivers Its Industry Proven Government Contracting Proposal Pricing Technology Solution To Alaska Aerospace Corporation

Temecula, California   November 06, 2012   Business News
(PRLEAP.COM) Temecula, CA – November 5, 2012 - Executive Business Services (EBS), a leading software developer and distributor with headquarters in Temecula, California, announced today that Alaska Aerospace Corporation, whose main core business area is space launch, has selected ProPricer to support the company's government contracting cost proposal, proposal pricing, and cost analysis requirements.

As an industry leader in commercial off the shelf pricing applications, ProPricer serves as a multi-user platform where functional groups can collaborate within the same data set, real-time. As an alternative to restricted mainframe applications or unstable, complex spreadsheets, ProPricer offers users an easy-to-use interface, robust database design, advanced import and export features, and the ability to perform and create complex "what if" analysis and custom reports in minutes.

"As Alaska Aerospace Corporation moves in the direction of having a larger customer base, we anticipate ProPricer to become a critical tool that will strengthen their submittal process and enhance their ability to secure contracts", said John Shurance, EBS President and CTO.

About Executive Business Services
As an application solutions provider focusing on meeting the needs of the growing Information Technology marketplace, EBS continues to successfully build, easy-to-use commercial off-the-shelf applications for various industry markets. EBS's industry proven ProPricer proposal pricing application suite has been helping contract management organizations standardize and manage the cost proposal process, thereby improving productivity and profitability time and again. With clients all over the US, Canada, and Europe, EBS attributes its success to its corporate mission of building quality, long-term relationships with its customers, while offering products and services that can meet and exceed the changing demands of its users. For more information about EBS and its product offering, please visit their website at www.propricer.com.

About Alaska Aerospace Corporation
The Alaska Aerospace Corporation was established by the State of Alaska to develop a high technology aerospace industry in the state. AAC's corporate offices are in Anchorage, Alaska. AAC's core business area is space launch, and it developed, owns, and operates the Kodiak Launch Complex, a state-of-the-industry spaceport on Kodiak Island, Alaska, that provides access to space for commercial and government interests. The corporation's charter encompasses more than space launch, and it participates in other aerospace fields as well. For more information about Alaska Aerospace Corporation, please visit www.akaerospace.com.

Media Contact
Yvonne M. Miller
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Executive Business Services
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Temecula, CA 92590
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Email: ymiller@propricer.com Yvonne Miller
Executive Business Services

24 October 2012

Spaceport Infrastructure Still an Unknown Frontier

Washington - Infrastructure
Spaceport Infrastructure Still an Unknown Frontier
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
WASHINGTON — Spaceports are popping up all over the United States, as both existing airports and brand-new facilities position themselves to profit from a new age of commercial space travel and transport, but the industry is still in its infancy and faces significant challenges.
Currently eight facilities in the U.S., some of which are bond-funded or are owned by bond-issuing authorities, are licensed for space launches by the Federal Aviation Administration’s office of commercial space transportation.
The facilities that are leading the way are the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Va., the Cecil Field Spaceport in Jacksonville, Fla., Spaceport Florida at Cape Canaveral, Spaceport Oklahoma in Burns Flat, Okla., Spaceport America in New Mexico, Mojave Air and Spaceport in Mojave, Calif., Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompac, Calif., and the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Those facilities have been planned and financed with an eye to the future.
The idea is that, especially with the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, the day is fast approaching when space tourism and transport will be big business, and spaceports capable of handling vertical rocket launches and returning craft will be in position to reap economic benefits for their regions and investors.
These launchpads could also become centers for commercial satellite launches, educational trips sponsored by universities, and other possibilities, causing the FAA to estimate increased demand for them.
The agency annually produces a forecast for space launch demand, and it has been growing. The 2012 report projects a yearly demand for 29.1 commercial space launches worldwide from this year through 2021. That number was 28.6 in the 2011 forecast, and 27.6 in the 2010 projection.
The first U.S. commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, signed a 20-year lease with billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic in 2009. Construction of the more than $200 million facility was supported by $100 million of New Mexico oil and gas severance-tax bonds and $51 million of sales-tax revenue bonds issued by a spaceport district comprising the local Sierra and Doña Ana counties.
In September, the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, a body legislatively empowered to issue debt, reached a memorandum of understanding with Orbital Sciences Corp. pledging state support for improvements at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The MARS facility will play host to a series of 10 rocket launches under the agreement, and the VCSFA will retain the improved facility for use by future customers.
Jacksonville’s Cecil Field Spaceport, owned by the Jacksonville Airport Authority, obtained its spaceport designation in August. As with Spaceport America and MARS before it, Cecil’s new space-age bona fides generated excitement about the potential for future economic growth.
“It is critical that we continue to focus on, and invest in, infrastructure projects that will directly benefit our state’s economy,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott after signing into law the facility’s designation as a spaceport. “Having Cecil Field designated as a spaceport will play a major role in the continued development of Florida’s aerospace and aviation industries and will continue to keep our economy heading in the right direction.”
While both the FAA and private firms agree that demand for commercial spaceports is likely to increase in coming years, the industry is still so young that the potential for growth variance is huge and the unknowns are vast.
“We are dealing with an industry which has not yet begun to operate,” said Derek Webber, director of commercial space flight consultant firm Spaceport Associates in Damariscotta, Me. “It will probably not begin before 2014. How many spaceports will be needed to satisfy the market once it gets started? No one knows.”
A revenue and demand study produced by the Tauri Group in Alexandria, Va., produced three divergent 10-year scenarios, including a “constrained” forecast, a “baseline” scenario, and a “growth” estimate. The baseline estimate, extrapolated from today’s consumer demand and research budgets, predicts $600 million of revenue from suborbital space flights over a decade. The constrained estimate, based on a possible drop in demand, cuts that in half to $300 million.
The growth estimate reflects an increase in demand, and hits $1.6 billion of revenue. The study also notes the possibility that demand could react to “game-changing unknowns,” such as price reductions, new research, sponsorships and other variables.
“Demand for suborbital flights is sustained and appears sufficient to support multiple providers,” the study concludes.
Webber said it’s impossible to know now whether states and localities that undertake the cost of building spaceport infrastructure will see a payoff any time soon. Spaceport America has pledged to be self-sustaining through the collection of tourism revenue from visitors popping by to take a look at the launch pad. Some of the facilities are not yet at the imminent operations stage, and their future is even more uncertain.
A Moody’s Investors Service analyst said said Cecil Field remains a general aviation airport that hopes to become a spaceport someday. Even knowing when the economic payoff has been reached could prove tough, according to Webber.
“We shall have to monitor a whole range of items,” he said. “How many people are employed at the spaceport? How many were employed in building it? What impact has the spaceport had on the education in neighboring schools? Do the kids become more interested in science, math and technology? How much money do the rich space tourists spend in the region of the spaceport in goods and services? How many family and friends do the space tourists bring with them when they do their trip? How long do they spend in the spaceport region before, during and after the flight? How successful is the new spaceport at attracting terrestrial tourists who come merely to visit for the day, and are not necessarily associated with any specific space tourism flight?”
There is a small amount of federal money available for spaceport development. The FAA’s space transportation infrastructure matching grants program provided $500 million for the initial development of three possible new spaceports in Colorado, Hawaii and California.
The majority of costs, though, will still fall on state and local entities and their private sector partners. The grants can fund up to 50% of a project, but require that at least 10% of development dollars come from the private sector.
“Those states that are supporting these developments are betting on a future which is based on known American values,” Webber said. “Pushing boundaries, taking risks, making a buck, looking forwards rather than backwards. The citizens of New Mexico who have supported the building of Spaceport America are doing this to ensure that their children and grandchildren in this poor part of the country will have something exciting in their futures instead of simply tumbleweed.”

24 May 2012

State of Alaska Will End Up Paying Entire 125 Million Dollar Bill for Launch Pad

There have been various news releases recently regarding the Alaska Aerospace Corporation and Kodiak Launch Complex funding for Launch Pad 3 construction. Gov. Parnell recently approved $25 million on top of the $8 million inserted into the state’s operating budget for the AAC for the remainder of 2012 ($33 million total) and the governor and AAC would like the public to believe Lockheed Martin will finance $100 million out of the $125 million needed for Launch Pad 3 and future KLC infrastructure.

However, the State of Alaska Capital Project Summary Fiscal Year 2012 Supplemental (March 8, 2012) proposed budget list for FY13 and FY14 shows the state’s proposed designated general funding of $100 million to the AAC “to complete the facility.” While lying to the public the state is prepared to foot the whole bill. The AAC is back to square one before the launch complex was built, when it had no funding and former CEO Pat Ladner said, “Build it and they will come.”

The Missile Defense Agency (via the Air Force) gave $80 million in 2010 to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for defense programs and for the AAC and Kodiak Launch Complex. How much did the AAC receive?

Regarding larger vehicle launches from the KLC the AAC board of directors is sitting on important environmental hazard information that it does not want the Kodiak public to know, especially those people living in close proximity to Narrow Cape. Concerned residents should check out the Kodiak Launch Complex section in NASA’s Environmental Assessment for Launch of NASA Routine Payloads, dated November 2011, as the hazards are listed. Before any further KLC infrastructure takes place, the public should demand a site-specific environmental impact statement for Narrow Cape because of future contamination to the island and human health risks.

By Carolyn Heitman

05 April 2012

Kodiak Launch Complex - Lockheed Martin Athena 2 Launches Not As Definite As Claimed

After 10 Years in Storage, Athena Rockets Will Attack Small-Sat Launch Backlog Apr. 4, 2012 - 04:20PM | By DEBRA WERNER 
Lockheed Martin was building an Athena rocket to launch a NASA Earth science satellite when space agency officials called back in 2000 with a question. Instead of flying a single, large satellite into orbit, could the rocket deliver four small spacecraft into four distinct orbital slots for NASA and the Pentagon?
After 11 months of engineering work, Lockheed Martin responded in September 2001 with the Kodiak Star mission. The Athena 1 rocket blasted off from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, placed three Pentagon technology experiments in 800-kilometer orbits, sank down to an altitude of 500 kilometers, dropped off a NASA upper atmospheric research satellite, and used its remaining fuel to deorbit.
The impressive mission turned out to be Athena’s swan song. Lockheed halted the Athena program in 2001, after it became clear that the commercial communication industry’s plans to fill low Earth orbit with constellations of satellites were faltering in the face of cellular towers and mobile phones. Now, officials at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo., are planning to revive Athena, citing new markets, including in the defense and intelligence areas.
Top defense and intelligence officials have made no secret of their frustration with high launch costs and their desire to introduce competition into the market. Small satellites featuring commercially produced electronic components are becoming increasingly capable and inexpensive. In addition, the U.S. National Security Space Strategy, approved in 2011 by the then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, suggests that constellations of small satellites might be more resilient than large, monolithic spacecraft.
Lockheed is pushing ahead with its revival plan, despite recent evidence suggesting the possibility of hard times ahead for small satellite advocates in the defense and intelligence arenas. The Obama administration’s 2013 budget would terminate the Defense Department’s Operationally Responsive Space office, which was working on plans to rapidly build small satellites for crisis responses. Elements of the ORS initiative would be moved to the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base. In the intelligence realm, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has rejected a proposal made on the Senate side to shift to smaller satellites for the country’s next-generation imaging spy satellites.
“Small satellites do not fit the prevailing paradigm for collection of imagery and signals intelligence,” said consultant Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute by email. “The prevailing approach favors billion-dollar spacecraft that collect massive amounts of information in exquisite detail over long periods.”
Even so, Lockheed Martin sees a healthy defense and intelligence market for smaller spacecraft in the science and technology area. Many such spacecraft have been sitting in clean rooms waiting for an affordable ride to space, said Gregory Kehrl, Lockheed Martin’s Athena mission manager. “We are offering customers a chance to buy a seat on a plane instead of the whole plane,” he added.
Starting in 2014, Lockheed plans to establish an annual rideshare service, filling up the Athena rocket with small satellites. Customers will pay only for their portion of the launch cost and obtain a ride to their desired orbital location. “We like Athena because it was built like an F-150 pickup truck,” said Kehrl. “It’s reliable for moving stuff from here to there.”
For the first flight, set to occur in about two years, Lockheed Martin plans to launch an Athena 2 from Kodiak to carry about six small spacecraft (in the 50 kilogram to 170 kilogram range) into two circular orbits. Remaining payload space will be filled with a collection of government-sponsored cubesats, the miniature satellites that measure 10 centimeters on a side. The Athena 2 flight will feature 32 separation events, “more than anyone has tried before,” Kehrl said.
Athena rockets can perform all those separations because the launch vehicle is designed to remain on orbit for hours, continually reorienting itself and resetting onboard computers in preparation for the next event.
“It can change altitude by hundreds of kilometers and still reserve enough propellant to deorbit the upper stage,” Kehrl said.
The Athena rocket derives its ability to place multiple small payloads into distinct orbital slots from the precision pointing systems company engineers refined while working on the Navy’s Fleet Ballistic Missile program, said Al Simpson, Lockheed Martin’s Athena program manager. That feature is the rocket’s primary selling point for customers seeking to send a single satellite to a precise location or to deploy a satellite constellation. For example, a government agency might opt to use Athena to place four, 200-kilogram surveillance payloads into a single orbital plane to provide persistent coverage of an important target, Kehrl said.
A launch customer focused exclusively on finding the lowest-cost ride for a small payload might choose to fly as a secondary payload on larger rockets built by United Launch Alliance or Space Exploration Technologies. Customers in the market for an entire rocket also may find that buying Athena is more expensive than purchasing a Minotaur rocket, which Orbital Sciences Corp. assembles using retired Minuteman and Peacekeeper missile stages.
For small satellites seeking a dedicated ride, the four-stage, solid-fueled Minotaur 4 has been the vehicle of choice. Orbital Sciences does not publicly discuss the costs of Minotaur rockets, but industry officials said it typically costs $50 million to launch a Minotaur 4, which can carry 1,730 kilograms into low Earth orbit. By comparison, the three-stage Athena 2, which has an advertised price of $65 million on the commercial market, is designed to fly 1,712 kilograms to low Earth orbit.
In spite of the higher cost for the entire launch vehicle, Lockheed is banking on government program managers’ ability to save money by participating in the proposed rideshare program. Government agencies also may support the revived Athena program due to concerns about the U.S. commercial launch industry and solid-rocket motor industrial base, Simpson said.
The National Space Policy unveiled in 2010 cites a goal of “energizing competitive domestic industries,” including space launch. In May, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics sent a report to Congress on efforts to preserve the “engineering and design skills and production capabilities” of the solid-rocket motor industry. “The DoD needs to sustain the solid-rocket motor industry because the United States will continue to rely on solid-rocket motors over the long term,” the report added.
When Athena was produced in the 1990s, United Technologies built the upper stage. Since that motor is no longer in production, Lockheed is equipping new Athenas with Castor 30 upper stages built by Alliant Techsystems (ATK), one of the nation’s two remaining solid-rocket manufacturers. Athenas could launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Vandenberg Air Force Base and NASA Wallops Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. Annual rideshare flights will originate from the Kodiak Launch Complex because it offers access to circular and highly elliptical polar orbits, which make extended arcs to maximize surveillance time or communications coverage for specific regions.
The Lockheed Martin-ATK team is keeping close tabs on upcoming Air Force competition for space-launch vehicles of varying sizes, known as the Orbital Suborbital Program-3 (OSP-3). The OSP-3 is designed to provide performance and system design data on launch vehicles for national security and civil space missions “while providing an on-ramp for emerging capabilities,” according to a draft request for proposals published June 16. The new entrant portion of the OPS-3 stems from a pact the Defense Department, NRO and NASA signed in October to enhance launch-vehicle competition and to give government officials greater flexibility in choosing rockets for specific missions based on cost and risk, according to the Air Force Space and Missile System Center's Space Development and Test Directorate. For billion-dollar satellites, agencies are likely to rely on rockets with long histories of success. Program managers seeking inexpensive rides for smaller spacecraft opt to fly newer, less-expensive rockets.
The Air Force was scheduled to release a final OSP-3 RFP in March seeking rockets in two categories: those capable of lifting 400 pounds to 5,000 pounds into low Earth orbit and those designed to place 5,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds into low Earth orbit. The OSP-3 also will enable government agencies to buy rockets for suborbital missions. Program managers plan to award multiple contracts that do not limit the government to specific quantities or delivery dates. Rocket builders who win OSP-3 contracts will be able to compete for specific launch missions.
The Air Force plans to award contracts by September, Air Force Space and Missile System Center’s Space Development and Test Directorate officials said via email.
When the final OSP-3 RFP is released, Lockheed Martin will make a decision on whether to compete, Simpson said. In the meantime, the company is inviting potential customers to participate in its 2014 demonstration flight. Those invitations, which were extended to the Army, Air Force, NRO, NASA and the Naval Research Laboratory, garnered a “huge response,” Kehrl said.
While Kehrl has high hopes for Athena’s future, he acknowledges that it will take time for the rocket’s rideshare service to attract a steady stream of paying customers. Many Defense Department program managers are eager to test hardware and software in space flight, but few have money in their budgets to cover launch cost. Since 1965, government program managers turned to the Pentagon’s Space Test Program for free rides on expendable rockets or space shuttles. President Obama’s 2013 budget sent to Congress in February proposes terminating the Space Test Program and turning the responsibility for finding room for extra payloads over to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
So while Lockheed Martin plans to keep costs as low as possible by launching multiple payloads on annual rideshare flights, those flights won’t be free. If customers begin designing payloads to fit the mass and volume requirements for the Athena rideshare program, “they will be able to fly very inexpensively and we can fit them on any flight,” Kehrl said. Still, “it’s a new capability that customers will have to build into future budget cycles,” Simpson said. “That takes time.”
This story appeared in the April 2012 issue of C4ISR Journal.

01 October 2011

Kodiak Launch Complex only launch in 2011 (no further launches scheduled until 2013) TacSat IV

One launch in 2011; one launch in 2010, no launches in 2009;
No launches scheduled for 2012, but Alaska Aerospace Corporation wants the State of Alaska to bail them out with ten million dollars in 2012 to keep 28 jobs in Kodiak.  One wonders what those KLC employees do for an entire year with no launches.

27 September 2011

Restarting the "Tiime Since Last Launch" timer

The KRLIG crew is off-line - if the one and only launch for 2011 (for a total of two in the last three years) at the KLC on 27 Sept is successful, we will restart the timer upon our return.

22 September 2011

Kodiak Launch Complex One and Only Launch for 2011 (Minotaur-IV+)

From Space Daily:
NRL TacSat-4 Spacecraft Encapsulated by Staff Writers Washington DC (SPX) Sep 22, 2011

TacSat-4 is an experimental spacecraft that will test advances in several technologies and SATCOM techniques. Ultimately, TacSat-4 will augment the existing fleet by giving the SATCOM Support Centers (SSC) an additional space asset to provide communications to otherwise under-served users and areas that either do not have high enough priority or do not have satellite visibility.
The Naval Research Laboratory's Tactical Satellite IV (TacSat-4) has been encapsulated inside the fairing (nose cone) of an Orbital Sciences Corporation Minotaur-IV+ launch vehicle in preparation for a Sept. 27 launch from the Alaska Aerospace Corporation's Kodiak Launch Complex.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) sponsored the development of the payload and the first year of operations. The Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office funded the launch that is managed by the Space Development and Test Directorate (SD), a directorate of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC).
TacSat-4 is a Navy-led joint mission which provides 10 Ultra High Frequency (UHF) channels and allows troops using existing radios to communicate on-the-move (COTM) from obscured regions without the need for dangerous antenna positioning and pointing.
To augment current geosynchronous satellite communication, the TacSat-4 spacecraft will be deployed into a unique, highly elliptical orbit with an apogee in the high latitudes of 12,050 kilometers.
"Communication is a critical warfighting requirement," said Dr. Larry Schuette, ONR's director of innovation. "Developed, more rapidly and at lower cost, TacSat-4 supplements traditional communications satellites and provides much needed support to forward deployed forces at sea and Marines on the ground."
TacSat-4 provides flexible up and down channel assignments, which increase the ability to operate in busy radio-frequency environments and will cover the high latitudes and mountainous areas where users currently cannot access UHF satellite communications (SATCOMs).
The NRL Blossom Point Ground Station provides the command and control for TacSat-4. The Virtual Mission Operations Center (VMOC) mission planning system allows dynamic reallocation to different theaters worldwide that enables rapid SATCOM augmentation when unexpected operations or natural events occur.
TacSat-4 is an experimental spacecraft that will test advances in several technologies and SATCOM techniques. Ultimately, TacSat-4 will augment the existing fleet by giving the SATCOM Support Centers (SSC) an additional space asset to provide communications to otherwise under-served users and areas that either do not have high enough priority or do not have satellite visibility.
The project also helps define future options for launching one or more smaller, highly elliptical orbit (HEO) satellites allowing the military to achieve the benefits of a combined HEO and geosynchronous orbit constellation.
The spacecraft bus was built by NRL and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) to mature ORS bus standards. It was developed by an Integrated (government and industry) System Engineering Team, the "ISET Team," with active representation from AeroAstro, Air Force Research Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Laboratory APL, ATK Space, Ball Aerospace and Technologies, Boeing, Design Net Engineering, General Dynamics AIS, Microcosm, Microsat Systems Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Orbital Sciences, NRL, SMC, Space System Loral, and Raytheon. The Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR and E) funded the standardized spacecraft bus.
TacSat-4 is managed by the Naval Research Laboratory Naval Center for Space Technology and will be the 100th NRL built satellite launched into a celestial orbit.

23 June 2011

Funding shuffle hides money going to Launch Complex (by Carolyn Heitman)

(Note that it's been over 9 months since a launch has occurred at the KLC and only one launch is scheduled for 2011 (27 Sept) as of 24 August 2011)
The Alaska State Legislators recently cut $4 million dollars to the Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) to cover operating costs for the rest of 2011. However, the governor’s fiscal year 2012 budget still includes $4 million out of the $8 million AAC is requesting for operating and sustainment funding. Currently AAC has $29 million in its account for the remainder of 2011 and should use its own funds rather than ask for more handouts from the state. Perhaps if it did not pay its top employees such high wages it would have more operating funds. Annual salaries are over $2 million.

In order to finance AAC and the Kodiak Launch Complex through the rest of 2011 Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Mark Begich and Rep. Don Young have requested $9.5 million from Congress.

Since AAC is set up as a private corporation with corporate bylaws, it is time the state and federal government (using taxpayers’ money) stop funding it and the Kodiak Launch Complex. Without federal funding neither would be operating. Since 1993 the AAC has received a minimum of $305.7 million dollars in revenue — $144.8 million in federal grants, $134.3 million launch revenues and $26.6 million from the state of Alaska (mostly flow-through federal monies) — and to date AAC has not paid any dividends to the state, which was the original agreement. It would be interesting to know how many other private corporations are financially supported by the federal government, thereby adding to the national debt.

Last year when the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) stopped funding the Kodiak Launch Complex, it left a nice parting gift to the state by giving $80 million to the Air Force. In turn the Air Force funneled the same amount to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a portion of which will be appropriated to AAC.

Starting in July AAC will operate under the Alaska Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, while at the same time intending to establish an Alaska Aerospace and Missile Defense Technology Center through the University of Alaska, which would make it more difficult to track Department of Defense/federal funding to AAC, Kodiak Launch Complex and Fort Greeley. It doesn’t hurt having retired military employees working for AAC, UAF (president) and ex-employees of the AAC working for the University of Alaska to rubber-stamp and push through Department of Defense funding for missile defense programs without the public’s knowledge. Talk about a stacked deck!

AAC also intends to use the National Guard Cooperative Agreement for further Kodiak Launch Complex infrastructure development (Alaska Aerospace Corporation Financial Statements, June 30, 2010) and much needed federal funding could be directed away from the needs of the National Guard. In past years federal funding for the Kodiak Launch Complex was earmarked and funneled via of the Army National Guard at Elmendorf Air Force Base — again to make funding more difficult for the public to track.

AAC is a private corporation which will operate through both the state of Alaska and the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, doing Department of Defense activities on state public land (Narrow Cape). Where else has the Department of Defense launched missile targets and defense satellites from public-use lands? Something is wrong with this picture.

In October 2010 the Alaska Aerospace Corporation received $227,195 from the Federal Aviation Administration (the agency who licensed the KLC and is also a cooperating agency with the AAC) for the First Commercial Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Grant for a Rocket Motor Storage Facility for the Kodiak Launch Complex (now the FAA is helping fund construction projects at the KLC). The AAC is always claiming to be broke and asking for hand-outs so where did it get the matching funds? The storage facility is not one building but will consist of 5 ‘Earth Covered Magazines’ (dirt covered structures). The first structure was completed last year and the second is scheduled to be completed this year. The Kodiak Launch Complex was never intended or developed to be a commercial launch site but a government/military facility. The AAC’s goals also include the creation of a Kodiak Economic Development Zone. Who will most benefit from that action remains to be seen.

This summer the AAC is planning preparation work for the installation of a ‘Liquid Oxygen Air Plant’ at the Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC) for larger ‘medium-lift’ launch vehicles that require liquid fuel. The vehicles would take off from Launch Pad 3 which will be located on the Cliffside above Fossil Beach. The AAC has consistently told the Kodiak public from the beginning that NO liquid- fueled vehicles would be launched from the KLC, only solid fuel vehicles. The liquid fuel plant could potentially leave the door open for launching interceptors from the KLC in the future, depending on new U.S.-Russia treaty agreements.

The previous U.S.-Russia ‘Start Treaty’ prevented the launch of interceptors from the KLC. However, the 2011 AAC ‘Proprietary and Competition Sensitive’ report mentions just that. An excerpt from the report states: “With the maturing of the missile defense industry, there will be a need to provide sustainment testing of the system to insure that the mission readiness of the interceptors does not degrade. Test launches of interceptors from the KLC can accomplish such testing without taking the missile defense system off-line. This sustaining aspect of missile defense is possible at KLC and AAC may have an opportunity to regain missile defense operations at KLC.” Are missile silos in Narrow Cape’s future?

When I contacted the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (AAC’s landlord) to find out if the Alaska Aerospace Corporation had provided an updated detailed plan of operations or a permit application for the liquid fuel plant, I was told that the DNR transferred land management rights and authority to the AAC and that the DNR is a ‘cooperating’ agency. Being a cooperating agency the DNR should be well informed of what is transpiring out at Narrow Cape, however, the department had no knowledge of the liquid fuel plant or was not willing to release the information. There has been no updated DNR/AAC Land Management Agreement or Development Plan since 2009, nor when contacted, did the Federal Aviation Administration admit to receiving a permit application from the AAC for the installation of the liquid fuel plant. Apparently the AAC is blatantly going ahead with whatever development it chooses at Narrow Cape without applying for permits or notifying the DNR or the Kodiak public of any proposed plans. No thanks to Senator Stevens the AAC was never required to do a Narrow Cape/KLC ‘site-specific’ environmental assessment.

Kodiak has a local representative (retired military) sitting on the Alaska Aerospace Board of Directors along with Rep. Austerman (a non-voting member) but residents as a whole very seldom get any updated reports or feedback in the local paper on what the AAC is proposing for Narrow Cape. When it comes to Alaska state public lands any development is suppose to be for the maximum benefit of the people and Kodiak does not need another Vandenberg or Cape Canaveral. From the AAC’s actions all these years it appears to have been originally set up as a military entity under disguise of a state agency, hiring mostly military retirees and their NASA friends and taxpayers should not be stuck with financially supporting it and the KLC and it is time to take away the Golden Fleece.

Carolyn Heitman is a 44-year Kodiak resident.