Oversight of the state-owned Alaska Aerospace Corporation is being shifted from the state’s economic development department to the department of military and veterans affairs. The move was made through an executive order signed by Governor Sean Parnell last week. The corporation has struggled since losing its missile defense agency contract last year and seeks to strengthen ties with the military for future contracts. KMXT’s Jacob Resneck reports.
— aerospace oversight pkg 3:52 "Commerce Commissioner … announced. I’m Jacob Resneck."
Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell wrote to the governor in support of the move saying it would give the corporation access to key military contacts and potential federal funds. But she also requested that her agency retain a seat on the corporation’s board of directors. Parnell’s executive order however reassigns that seat to the Department of Military and Veterans Affair’s adjutant.
Military and Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Kalei Rupp says her agency is ready to assist in securing future military contracts.
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The corporation has long sought civilian contracts as well. Its launch at Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island last November had a civilian component that included NASA and university experiments. It was the corporation’s first launch since 2008. Last year the governor had to provide $4 million in operating funds and Parnell has inserted an additional $4 million into this year’s budget. That’s well short of the $10 million the corporation had reportedly asked for but CEO Dale Nash says he’s grateful for the governor’s support.
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Kodiak’s House Rep Alan Austerman sits on the corporation’s board. He says the corporation has discussed selling bonds to finance a multimillion dollar medium-lift facility to launch larger rockets from Narrow Cape in addition to operating funds for the corporation.
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Nash says a medium lift facility would make the Kodiak Launch Complex competitive in attracting launches to Alaska.
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But in the meantime, he says the corporation is also re-bidding for missile defense.
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Austerman also serves as the House’s Republican Majority Leader. Would he support more state funding for the aerospace corporation?
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Governor Parnell released a statement saying the change in oversight authority would give the corporation better access to the federal military command structure. The move takes effect July 1st.
The Kodiak Launch Complex’s next launch is expected to be an Air Force satellite to lift off sometime this spring. The launch date hasn’t been announced
I’m Jacob Resneck