Kodiak spaceport complex strives to increase launch capacity

  • Thursday, April 5, 2018 8:08pm
  • News

KODIAK (AP) — The Alaska Aerospace Corporation will undergo a new environmental impact study in an effort to increase launch capacity at the Pacific Spaceport Complex.

CEO Craig Campbell said he’d like to increase the complex’s yearly launch capacity to 24, which would include government-affiliated launches as well as commercial launches with smaller payloads, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Wednesday.

Under the current Launch Site Operator License with the Federal Aviation Administration, the spaceport can accommodate up to nine rockets over a 12-month period.

“We’re basically asking the FAA to allow us to increase the number of launches at Kodiak,” Campbell said, “based on the smaller rockets operating there.”

The environmental assessment will be submitted to regulators and will take into account factors such as impacts on wildlife, water pollution and noise in consideration of the new launch limits. Campbell said it will take around a year to complete the assessment once the corporation chooses a contractor.

The spaceport has facilitated 19 launches, all affiliated with the U.S. government, since 1998. But it will soon begin facilitating commercial space flights with smaller payloads, like from the Arizona-based Vector Launch Inc. — one of the companies contracted to use the spaceport later this year. Vector specializes in launching what are called nanosatellites, like the PocketQube — manufactured by Scottish company Alba Orbital — which weigh about two pounds.

The push for additional launch capacity is just one way the company has been looking to generate new sources of revenue since losing state funding in 2014, the Daily Mirror reported.

In November, the company created a subsidiary called Aurora Launch Services to operate in the private sector. And on Monday, Campbell said that a $250,000 Environmental Assessment was underway for a new launch site in Hawaii.

“If it is a good site, and the EA appears successful, we will begin looking for funding to build the facility in Hawaii with Alaska Aerospace as the lead company,” Campbell said.

He said the company is currently working with the University of Hawaii and the state department of economic development to research a potential site for small commercial launch vehicles.

The corporation is also looking into opening a fifth launch pad at the Kodiak spaceport, Campbell said.

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