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Public comment period open for renewal of Kodiak Spaceport’s land agreement

Kodiak’s Pacific Spaceport Complex on Narrow Cape, November 2022 (Kirsten Dobroth/KMXT)
Kodiak’s Pacific Spaceport Complex on Narrow Cape, November 2022 (Kirsten Dobroth/KMXT)

Alaska Aerospace, which owns and operates the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak’s Narrow Cape, wants to renew its land agreement in the area for another 30 years.

The land management agreement allows the company to launch rockets and conduct other testing from the Pasagshak area – near the end of the island’s road system.

Kodiak’s Spaceport is one of the only facilities in the country that can launch rockets and their satellites into polar orbit. The agreement was first approved three decades ago and is set to expire next year.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources is currently reviewing Alaska Aerospace’s renewal application – with public comment open until August 14. Amber-Lynn Taber, a natural resource specialist with the department, says the application is largely the same as the existing agreement.

“It’s not an expansion upon the footprint they have currently authorized,” she said. “They are seeking that exact same footprint both in their sort of core launch facility area as well as their two safety zones.”

Those safety zones encompass the areas surrounding the core launch facility and Ugak Island. The core launch facility covers about 3,800 acres; Alaska Aerospace can restrict access to another 7,048 acres surrounding the Spaceport during launch operations, depending on Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. That footprint is smaller during rocket testing operations, as opposed to launches. The renewal application also includes some updates to existing infrastructure and new construction, including more storage areas to support launches and an expansion of the antenna field, within the existing authorized footprint for the core launch facility.

California-based aerospace company ABL Space Systems attempted its first launch from the facility in January, but the rocket crash-landed shortly after liftoff. Before that, Astra – another California-based rocket company – successfully launched its first rocket carrying commercial satellites from the facility in March of 2022.

Alaska Aerospace previously submitted a renewal for its land management agreement last year. But it later withdrew the application citing public backlash at the time over road closures near the complex. Since then, Alaska Aerospace’s chief executive officer Milton Keeter left the company. He wasreplaced on an interim basis by John Cramer.

The application and information about how to comment is available on the Department of Natural Resources’ website.