Lockheed Martin wins Alaska spaceport bid

  • By Mark Thiessen
  • Saturday, December 13, 2014 10:14pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE — The state-owned space agency on Friday named Lockheed Martin the winner of a bidding process to reconfigure a launch pad to accommodate larger rockets than what the Kodiak Launch Complex can currently handle.

Lockheed Martin beat out three other bidders to reconfigure launch pad one at the Kodiak site, officials with the Alaska Aerospace Corp. said during a news conference in Anchorage.

“It’s is a great day,” said Craig Campbell, the corporation’s CEO and president. “It’s what we’ve been trying to achieve for a number of years. And we’re at the point now, we’re at the cusp of being able to really expand our operation and do the stuff that Alaskans have always wanted.”

The Kodiak facility is capable of launching small rockets, but the more lucrative market is with medium-sized rockets, which have larger payloads and go into higher orbits.

Lockheed Martin’s proposal calls for modifications to the launch pad so its Athena IIS rocket and other medium-lift rockets can be launched from the site. The goal is to have three launches by 2020.

After the launch pad is reconfigured, it will be able to launch both small- and medium-lift rockets.

The first launch ever from Kodiak in 2001 was a smaller Athena rocket. The payload for the medium-lift Athena IIS is nearly double that of the smaller rocket.

The state agency and Lockheed Martin are expected to hammer out details of an agreement within the next few weeks, but officials said it was important to announce now as some companies are close to making decisions from where to launch rockets.

Alaska Aerospace has been sitting on a $25 million appropriation from the state Legislature to expand to medium launch capability.

Campbell said the project as presented right now would be substantially less than the $21 million request for proposal document, and Lockheed Martin’s presentation puts its somewhere between the $3 million-$6 million range.

The Lockheed Martin agreement comes after some troubling times for the state agency.

The work to reconfigure the launch pad isn’t expected to interfere with reconstruction efforts after a rocket was detonated last August when it failed. Campbell said he wants the launch pad ready by October for any potential customer to come in and begin the process of a rocket launch.

Cleanup of hazardous materials and metal shards continues four months after military testers detonated a rocket carrying an experimental weapon. The rocket was meant to carry a hypersonic glider into the upper atmosphere to test an experimental Army weapons system. Testers destroyed the rocket after they detected an anomaly.

The Alaska facility has struggled financially, with the Legislature there threatening to cut its funding if it didn’t bring in more business.

The state created the Alaska Aerospace Corp. in 1991 to develop an aerospace sector for Alaska’s economy, and the Kodiak Launch Complex was built to compete with Vandenberg Spaceport in California.

The corporation was able to pay for operations from its launches with federal grants. But for the past few years, the Alaska corporation had to rely on state subsidies.

More in News

Sens. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, right, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, discuss a bill proposing a nearly 17% increase in per-student education funding Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini /Juneau Empire)
State Senate bill would bump per-student funding amount by $1,000

If approved, the legislation would bump state education funding by more than $257 million

Recognizable components make up this metal face seen in a sculpture by Jacob Nabholz Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Metalwork gets time to shine

Metal is on showcase this month at the Kenai Art Center

This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden administration issued a long-awaited study on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, that recommends allowing three oil drilling sites in the region of far northern Alaska. The move, while not final, has angered environmentalists who see it as a betrayal of President Joe Biden’s pledges to reduce carbon emissions and promote green energy. (ConocoPhillips via AP)
Biden administration recommends major Alaska oil project

The move — while not final — drew immediate anger from environmentalists

Homer Electric Association General Manager Brad Janorschke testifies before the Senate Resources Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (Screenshot via Gavel Alaska)
Senate group briefed on future of Cook Inlet gas

Demand for Cook Inlet gas could outpace supply as soon as 2027

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Peninsula voices join state debate over school funding

Lawmakers heard pleas from education leaders around Alaska to increase the state’s base student allocation

Tamera Mapes and a client laugh and joke with one another during a free haircut at Project Homeless Connect on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Caring and connecting

Project Homeless Connect offers a variety of services

This September 2011 aerial photo provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, shows the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, effectively vetoed a proposed copper and gold mine in the remote region of southwest Alaska that is coveted by mining interests but that also supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. (Joseph Ebersole/EPA via AP)
EPA blocks Pebble Mine

Pebble called the EPA’s action “unlawful” and political and said litigation was likely

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Statewide hospitalizations decreased slightly

A plow truck clears snow from the Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna council approves extra $100k for snow removal

At the end of December, the department was already more than $27,000 over their $100,000 budget for snow removal

Most Read