Kodiak aerospace complex expects next launch in 2017

  • Wednesday, November 30, 2016 11:09pm
  • News

KODIAK (AP) — Operators of the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak say the facility’s next launch won’t take place before the end of the year as previously reported.

Alaska Aerospace Corp. CEO Craig Campbell says the next launch may take place sometime in the spring or summer of next year, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

The complex held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in August to celebrate the completion of construction work following a 2014 explosion. At the time, Campbell had said a small vehicle test launch by Vector Space Systems could happen at the complex by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

But those plans have changed, and Campbell says the company will likely look outside the state to conduct its test launch.

“What they wanted to do this winter was a test launch of a smaller vehicle than the one they want to use commercially,” Campbell said. “It probably will be easier for them to do that from another location, like back in the Mojave, than to do it in Alaska for logistics, (weather), and everything else.”

There is still no contract between AAC, which operates the Kodiak complex, and Vector, but Campbell said he is “pretty confident” a launch will happen at the facility later in 2017.

“We’re still working with Vector Space Systems and I think they’re still very interested in coming to Kodiak,” he said.

A Vector launch would involve a small payload of 300 pounds and would bring in about $3 million, Campbell told the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly in September.

If plans with the launch vehicle development company fall through, the complex’s first launch will likely be a Missile Defense Agency test of the U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System.

The agency awarded a contract worth up to $80.4 million over five to six years in July that calls for AAC to provide the necessary infrastructure and support. A launch is expected in late spring or early summer, Campbell said.

In the meantime, Alaska Aerospace Corp. is working under contract to support Rocket Lab launches in New Zealand next year. The relationship with the aerospace company could bring the Kodiak complex four to six Rocket Lab launches in Alaska in 2018, Campbell said.

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