14 April 2015

14 April 2015: Alaska Aerospace Corporation Changes Name of Kodiak Launch Complex to "Pacific Spaceport Complex"

Photo of U.S. Army rocket exploding just a few seconds after lift-off at the "Pacific Spaceport Complex"
Even though the KLC, located on Narrow Cape, Kodiak, Alaska, is actually not anywhere near the Pacific Ocean, AAC is changing the name of the rarely used facility to "Pacific Spaceport Complex".  This change is simply a PR ploy to disguise the fact that the last rocket launched from the KLC exploded a few seconds after lift-off. 

12 April 2015: Pacific Spaceport Complex Puts Plastic Fence Back Up Rather Than Remove It From Beach

Good (?) news: AK Aerospace re-erected the plastic fencing on the beach near the Kodiak Launch Complex - it seems pointless since AAC stated that all the hazardous material has been cleaned up and you can just walk around the end of the fence anyway. All that needless orange plastic fencing along the highway is unsightly and restricting public access.Here are photos and video KRLIG shot on Sunday.

06 April 2015

05 April 2015: Alaska Aerospace Trashes Ocean Beaches at Narrow Cape

According to an article published in The Alaska Dispatch on April 2, 2015, "Alaska Aerospace Corp. officials say the cleanup of hazardous materials from a rocket explosion last year has been completed at the Kodiak Launch Complex."
Unfortunately, their containment fences have not been removed and are trashing the ocean beaches at Narrow Cape with a huge amount of plastic debris.  Since no launches are currently scheduled, perhaps KLC employees could remove this unsightly, dangerous plastic debris before any more of it is washed into the ocean and causes marine mammal, fish, and bird fatalities. 

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