Kodiak launch complex is selling point for Alaska’s US Space Command bid

A federal government-sponsored tactical satellite lifts off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, operated by the Alaska Aerospace Corporation. (Photo by John F. Williams)

In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner Monday morning, Alaska Gov. Dunleavy highlighted the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak to make a case that Anchorage and southcentral Alaska should be the permanent headquarters of US Space Command.

Right now, the Space Command headquarters is at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In May, the US Department of Defense announced a bidding process for selecting the permanent location of Space Command HQ.

On June 12, Alaska Governor Dunleavy and Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz formally entered their bid proposing Anchorage as the new headquarters, and since then have cited Kodiak’s launch complex, the Pacific Spaceport, to help make their appeal.

Dunleavy’s op-ed this week underscored Kodiak’s place in Alaska’s aerospace industry and in the country’s military projects.

However, both the governor’s office and Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the Pacific Spaceport Complex, say that, if Anchorage is chosen as Space Command headquarters, Kodiak may not necessarily see more military launches from the Pacific Spaceport Complex.

Alaska Aerospace CEO, Mark Lester said, “I don’t want anybody to confuse that. Alaska Aerospace continues to build aerospace in the state and this is one opportunity with  US Space command headquarters that doesn’t make the Kodiak launch site a  military base. There would be no intent to do that we worked long and hard to get FAA commercial spaceport license. Commercial opportunities continue to grow.”

Lester acknowledged that nearly all launches from the Pacific Spaceport have supported US military projects.

Jeff Turner, Deputy Director of Communications for Gov. Dunleavy, also said that the Kodiak spaceport can be used for military purposes if needed, but could not speculate if the spaceport is planned to support US Space Command military missions.

According to Turner, Gov. Dunleavy’s inclusion of the Pacific Spaceport Complex in his proposal is to highlight Alaska’s space launch facilities, and should not be interpreted as a statement about military projects at the spaceport.

Lester reiterated that the Kodiak launch complex is part of this proposal campaign to promote the idea of an Anchorage Space Command HQ as it demonstrates Alaska’s overall space capabilities, including the Poker Flat site in Fairbanks.

“It’s important wherever US Space Command is housed is to have space capabilities that surround it. Not that they are directing those capabilities or there’s a direct line, but having a workforce that understands how various elements of space assets come together to support our war fighting capabilities. The spaceport has had long support in military launches, government launches, suborbital tests. That’s an important piece of knowledge having here in Alaska.”

Lester said that if the state’s Space Command proposal is approved, they will have to build another spaceport for related missions and projects.

In the meantime, the US Air Force is tasked with reviewing all of the headquarter nominees, and is expected to make their selection in early 2021.

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