Seven hundred and seven days. That's how long it's been since a rocket has taken off from the Kodiak Launch Complex. With huge costs and so little business, Alaska lawmakers have threatened to cut funding for the state enterprise. But now, a new arrangement with the State of the Virginia could help bring the Alaska Aerospace Corporation the contracts it needs to survive. APRN's Alexandra Gutierrez reports.
-- (Spaceports 3:08 SOC)
Virginia are the only states in the country to operate their own
commercial spaceports. Alaska launches vessels along a polar orbit,
while Virginia shoots spacecraft onto an equatorial path. Now, the two
states have decided to team up and form a sort of space partnership.
<<5s "We want one-stop shop for U.S. launches, no matter what orbit you need to achieve.">>
That's Craig Campbell, who directs the Alaska Aerospace Corporation.
His outfit has agreed to work together with the Virginia Commercial
Spaceflight Authority, after both states' governors decided it was in
their mutual interest. That means sharing engineering information,
facility designs, and maybe even staff. Discussion of a partnership like
this has been happening for years, but a formal agreement was decided
on not long after former Alaska Aerospace chief Dale Nash took over
Virginia's spaceflight operations.
Right now, both spaceports
are seen as little guys compared to federal complexes like Cape
Canaveral. Campbell says a soft merger like this should make both place
<<14s "The end game is that we think
that we can attract more business to both states by having a combined
message and providing the full range of services a customer might need
by just coming to us.">>
And that business is sorely
needed on Alaska's end. The Alaska Aerospace Corporation has been kept
afloat by large state subsidies in recent years, and lawmakers have
started to lose their appetite for funding the program. While the
legislature only shaved one percent off the corporation's budget this
year, they made it clear that funding would be cut by a quarter next
session if a launch contract weren't secured by March. That would be
enough to potentially shut down the Kodiak Launch Complex.
partnership with Virginia could make the Kodiak Launch Complex more
attractive to a company like Orbital Sciences, that's in the process of
trying to decide where it wants to launch its mid-sized rockets from.
The Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority has already handled that
sort of work for the company.
<<8s "We believe Orbital
will like the fact that we're collaborating together on a relationship
or commonality for their Minotaur system.">>
says they're not dependent on the Virginia partnership for their
survival. Even before the two states formalized their relationship, the
Alaska Aerospace Corporation managed to secure a contract that will keep
them in business. Campbell won't give details on the contract, but he
says it will satisfy the legislature's demands.
<<7s "It's a government agency, and I can't talk anymore about it, but we've met that commitment.">>
For their part, Kodiak's legislators think this is a positive step
forward for the corporation. Sen. Gary Stevens says the arrangement
could be a key to making the Kodiak Launch Complex more viable as a
<<"Well, yes, it is. It just makes
sense that we work together because the same firm wants to launch both
polar and equatorial flights, and this is the way to make it happen, I
And that should make the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, legislators, and space nerds alike all a little bit happier.