22 January 2010

A Pathetic Plea for Business for Space Pork Kodiak

Since 1995, those of us that have done our homework have known that the KLC would never be a self-supporting business.  The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority refused to lend Alaska Aerospace funds to build the facility because AAC's business model showed they could not repay the loan.  It was only built after pressure from then Senator Ted Stevens on the USAF to provide construction funding.  Read about it here and here.

KRLIG's research showed that private launch customers were not interested in the KLC because it was too expensive.  Occasional military launches (plus a one-off NASA launch) have been the only business and many of those were due to Stevens' influence.

There was not a single launch at the KLC in 2009. The facility remains dependent on federal and state funding to operate and maintain this dormant white elephant.
After twelve years, the KLC is no "secret" (as Campbell implies below) and AAC has had all that time to market itself and attract private launch customers.  The KLC is a drain on government finances and provides an inadequate return for the size of the investment.

KLC is looking for launch customers
Guest opinion by Alaska Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell
Article published on Tuesday, Jan 19th, 2010 Kodiak Daily Mirror

Alaska is fortunate for our superb geographic location. We are blessed with abundant natural resources which can and should be developed for the economic vitality of our state. From seafood and mining to oil and gas resources, Alaska has what the world needs. And we are located at the northern apex to North America and Asia, giving us two directions to focus our sales and export opportunities.
But our geographic location also has tremendous value in the aerospace industry. Our Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC), owned and operated by the Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC), is a gem. Located on 3,700 acres of state land at Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island, the site is ideal for both government and commercial rocket launches. Over the past 12 years, KLC has been critical to our space launch access and missile defense testing capability. In the past six years there have been eight Missile Defense Agency (MDA) target missile launches from KLC, demonstrating the value of this site to our nation. Now it is time to look beyond missile defense launches, to other military capabilities and potential commercial operations.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Colorado to meet with General Robert Kehler, Commander, Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) to discuss potential opportunities for increased use of KLC. Along with Mr. Dale Nash, AAC chief executive officer, and Mr. Tom Case, AAC president and chief operating officer, we presented the rational for increased use of KLC by AFSPC. While it is too early to declare victory, our meetings netted some very positive direction.
We received assurances that KLC will be included in determining launch locations for future AFSPC launches. This is important, as KLC provides the ideal site for launches into polar orbits. It also allows for almost a 20 percent payload advantage when launching into the Molniya and Tundra orbits over Vandenberg AFB in California.
The State of Alaska has provided direct financial support to KLC in the past. In 1998, $16 million was invested to develop the complex. Last year, the state provided an additional $7 million for rocket motor storage facility construction. Additional funding is being considered for expansion of the site, based on increased demand for use. So the trip to Colorado was a specific targeted effort to expand the market for KLC and secure greater opportunities for launches in the coming years.
I have a mission for all Alaskans: Let’s not keep the Kodiak Launch Complex a secret. The site has matured to the point where Alaska needs to be more proactive in marketing the capabilities and opportunities for increased use, both government and civilian. The team at Alaska Aerospace Corporation is doing a tremendous job operating the site and looking for expansion opportunities. Alaska is best positioned to provide greater access to space and I am committed to leading that effort with the team from AAC. As KLC increases launch activities in the coming years, Alaska will benefit. Let’s keep the momentum going.

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