Kodiak Pacific Spaceport Complex hosts tours for first time since pandemic

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The Kodiak Pacific Spaceport Complex on Narrow Cape held an open house on Aug. 14. Tours included showing the public Alaska Aerospace’s laboratories and launch sites.

A recent criticism of the company has been transparency. This was the first tour day at the the company’s campus since the pandemic. John Cramer, Alaska Aerospace’s interim CEO and president, said it’s just the first step to improving communication with the public. 

Cramer held question and answer sessions for people touring the spaceport, August 14, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

“A couple of things – we’re spending some money right now to purchase some reader boards,” he said. “These are the lighted signs that you see alongside the road – the ones that we have been using up until now, you had to manually adjust.”

The goal with the new signs is to keep folks headed to the Pasagshak area updated on road and beach closures due to testing or launches at the facility. Cramer also plans to update their website as often as possible and send out closure announcements over the radio leading up to launches. 

The push for transparency also comes as the corporation seeks to renew its lease for the area, which is also known as the Interagency Land Management Assignment. The agreement allows the company to use the area for rocket testing and launches. 

Kids got to play with some of the non-sensitive computers and equipment, August 14, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

The current lease is set to expire next year, and Alaska Aerospace wants to renew it for another three decades.  The existing  agreement permits the company to have 3,717 acres of land for its core launch facility, and the renewal application outlines nearly the same footprint.

“We’re renewing the lease that we have and have had for the past 25 to 30 years, so, it’s a renewal,” Cramer said. “The only real change, substance change that’s in there, is we’re letting folks know that we have an interest in the old LORAN site.” 

The old LORAN site is a parcel of 88 acres that the Coast Guard used for long range navigation systems. The station is no longer in operation. 

But critics of the spaceport have claimed it’s an attempt to control 7,038 acres in addition to their current facilities. 

Cramer said that land is also in the current lease as the complex’s safety closure zone for launches. 

“We’ve always had the ability to shut down access on launch day – more acreage than we usually do,” he said. “We just haven’t because we haven’t had a need to. That’s not going to change, it’s going to be the same.”

The renewal application has plans for potential expansion including new warehouses and more roads around the Spaceport’s current campus. One of the company’s upcoming construction plans is to rebuild a launch pad that was damaged after an ‘anomaly’ caused a rocket to crash land in January. 

The public can read over the application and send comments to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources by October 12. 

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