Alaska Aerospace Asking for State Funding

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Jacob Resneck/KMXT

Friday’s launch at the Kodiak Launch Complex will be the first rocket in almost two years for the Alaska Aerospace Corporation. The state-owned corporation’s primary customer has been the military though this spring it lost its lucrative missile defense contract. Now the corporation is reportedly asking for millions in state funding to not only expand but stay open for the next four years. KMXT’s Jacob Resneck reports.

(aerospace pkg) 5:01 "The year the state … 4:24 p.m. I’m Jacob Resneck."

This year the state of Alaska contributed $4 million to keep the aerospace corporation going. Kodiak’s launch complex opened in 1998 in the hope of launching private satellites into polar orbit. But that hasn’t materialized and the primary customer continues to be the federal government. Friday’s launch will be a shared mission between the Air Force and NASA.

Now the aerospace corporation is looking to Juneau for a funding commitment, confirms CEO Dale Nash.

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The corporation also wants to expand its launch capability to medium-sized rockets. Nash says the corporation is in talks with the manufacturers of the Falcon 9 and Taurus II-type rockets and wants to make Kodiak the West Coast launch site for larger rockets.

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How much any of this would cost, Nash wouldn’t say. But Kodiak’s state House representative Alan Austerman sits on the corporation’s board of directors and has been privy to some of the discussions.

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So that’s $80 million for an expansion as well as $40 million for four years of operations, a total of $120 million the corporation would be asking from the state. Karen Rehfeld is the state’s budget director. She says her office is awaiting a business plan from the corporation.

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The launch complex on Narrow Cape hasn’t been without controversy. It was the subject of newspaper reports in 2008 that suggested the late Senator Ted Stevens had strong-armed the Air Force into using Kodiak as a launch site.

Keeping tabs on all this is the Kodiak Rocket Launch Information Group. It’s a small band of rocket skeptics. One of its members, Mike Sirofchuck of Kodiak broke the story that the corporation is looking for more state funding on the group’s blog, Space Pork Kodiak.

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Meanwhile this week’s launch of a Minotaur IV rocket comes at a crucial time for the aerospace corporation which hasn’t sent a rocket into space since 2008. How much the corporation will receive from this launch, Nash wouldn’t say, citing a confidentiality clause in its agreement with contractors.

But Nash says he remains upbeat about the corporation’s future on Kodiak Island.

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The Air Force has also not disclosed the cost of this week’s mission. The rocket is scheduled to launch at 4:24 p.m. Friday.

I’m Jacob Resneck

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