The commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs was on the ground in Kodiak last week visiting the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Narrow Cape. Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe toured the facility and met with Alaska Aerospace personnel.
Last week’s Spaceport tour included a stop at the silo-shaped tower on Launch Pad 1 – one of three launch areas at the facility, where a rocket gets hauled in – piece by piece – reassembled and erected with a giant crane before blasting off into space.
Kodiak’s Spaceport is one of the only facilities in the country that can launch rockets – and their satellites – into polar orbit, which means those satellites rotate around the earth’s North and South poles. It receives no state funding, though the facility falls within Alaska’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The California-based ABL Space Systems hoped to launch a rocket at the spaceport successfully for the first time back in January. But the rocket crash-landed there shortly after liftoff, damaging one of the facility’s launch pads. The commissioner’s visit came as the Pacific Spaceport Complex works to complete cleanup of that site.
ABL plans to restart operations there sometime in the next couple months. There was some public backlash over road closures related to testing at the facility last summer – Saxe said they don’t want that to happen again.
“And we want to make sure we’re communicating with the public, but also doing a good mission here too – to have that balance going forward,” he said.
Saxe plans to be back in Kodiak again later this summer.