FAA Says No Further Environmental Study Needed for Launch Site Expansion

Jay Barrett/KMXT

There will be no need for a more in-depth investigation into the environmental effects of building a third, larger launch pad at Narrow Cape in Pasagshak. That, according to an announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration, made Tuesday morning.

The FAA issued a Final Environmental Assessment for Launch Pad 3 after determining that it “will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.”

Though the FAA refers to it by its former name in the document for clarity, the Kodiak Launch Complex was renamed Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska last year. It is operated by the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which plans to operate larger, medium-lift rockets from Launch Pad 3 if it is built and clients are found.

The Final E-A find that there is no environmental issues with AAC’s expansion plans, which include modifying Pasagshak Road, new launch pad and support structures, and storage for as much as 30,000 gallons of liquid rocket fuel. All rockets that have flown from Kodiak so far have been small-lift rockets using solid fuel.

The FAA released its Draft Environmental Assessment for a 30-day review in September 2014, but extended it to 60 days. In that time, 54 written and 26 verbal comments were taken, and more than a year later, in December 2015, the second Draft E-A was released, which received four comments.

The FAA’s environmental assessment decision is not the final okay on building the third launch pad and supporting infrastructure. The necessary changes to Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s Launch Site Operator License will need to weather several more non-environmental statutory, regulatory and administrative reviews before that can happen.

In the meantime, funding from the State of Alaska is drying up and there’s continuing talk of privatizing the organization.

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