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

This screen capture from surveillance footage released by the Anchorage Police Department shows a masked man vandalizing the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage in May. (Courtesy photo / APD)
Museums statewide condemn antisemitic vandalism

Two incidents, one in May, one in September, have marred the museum this year.

Three speech language pathologists with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District were recognized for excellence during the Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association last month. (Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
Peninsula speech language therapists awarded for excellence

“I was very honored to be recognized by my peers and colleagues,” Evans said in an interview with the Clarion.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file)
Dial 10 for local calls

People placing calls will need to dial all 10 digits in order for the call to go through.

(Image courtesy CDC)
Soldotna man among newly reported COVID deaths

The state also announced 830 positive COVID cases Wednesday.

A spruce tree showing heavy damage from spruce bark beetles stands on Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ben Boetttger/Peninsula Clarion file)
Prescribed burning scheduled for Moose Pass, Cooper Landing

The burning is intended to mitigate the spread of spruce bark beetles.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Peninsula projects included in Murkowski appropriations requests

The funding requests run the gamut from funding for the Alaska SeaLife Center to expanding projects at the Central Peninsula Landfill.

Spruce trees are photographed in Seldovia, Alaska, on Sept. 26, 2021. (Clarion file)
Arbor Day grant application period opens

The program provides chosen applicants with up to $400 to buy and ship trees to their schools.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Ark., leave the chamber after a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Wednesday, May 10, 2017. A magistrate ruled Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, that there is probable cause for a case to continue against a man accused of threatening to kill Alaska’s two U.S. senators in profanity-filled voicemails left on their office phones. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Grand jury will get case of man threatening to kill senators

He is accused of making threats against U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
Virus death toll soars

The state reported 66 more COVID deaths Tuesday, some recent and some as far back as April.

Most Read