Letter to the editor: Public input will be included in spaceport’s assessment

Friday, April 13, 2018 - 10:45

Greetings from your neighbors at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska. On April 4, the Kodiak Daily Mirror printed an article titled “Kodiak Could See 24 Rocket Launches Each Year.” I want to thank the reporter and staff at the Kodiak Daily Mirror for keeping the community informed on the future plans for America’s premier commercial spaceport. The article was well-written and opened the public discussion on what our spaceport should be in the future.

Since the article came out, I have received a number of questions about the process and potential impacts that could be created with increasing the number of launches at PSCA. I have also seen some misinformation about how Alaska Aerospace plans to pursue this initiative. Let me address a few points to reassure the community that we will be conducting a fully open and transparent process that includes public participation.

As a Federal Aviation Administration licensed commercial spaceport, we are required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The FAA has been delegated review and approval authority for the environmental process concerning commercial spaceports. When completing an environmental document, a comprehensive evaluation of the affected environment must be presented, with an analysis of the environmental consequences that could occur if the proposed action is approved.

An integral part of the process requires public involvement, which includes public meetings. The public will absolutely have the opportunity to review draft documents, submit written comments, and participate in the public process. As has been our practice under my  leadership, it is our intent to provide complete information on our development plans and seek public comments on ways we can improve and make PSCA an even more positive contributor to the Kodiak community.

While I did not specify in the article each of the fourteen categories that are covered in the evaluation process, I did state that we will be doing a formal Environmental Assessment process, which requires following NEPA rules. For those who may want to become more familiar with the NEPA process we will be using, please visit the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation web site at www.faa.gov and go to the Environmental Program section.

One thing I would ask is that you not predetermine your opinion before you know the facts. An example of misinformation I recently saw concerned Alaska Aerospace restricting access to Surfers Beach and Pasagshak Point. Fact is, we did not for the most recent commercial launch and will not for future commercial launches. Actually, launching smaller rockets from PSCA allows us to reduce the area of closure for launch operations. We recognize the recreational value of Narrow Cape and will continue to work towards maximizing access to Fossil Beach and other areas around Narrow Cape, as well as keeping Surfers Beach and Pasagshak Point open to the public during commercial operations. 

Finally, when asked by the reporter how many additional launches we would be requesting in the environmental process, I stated that the number would actually be determined as part of the process, I speculated that it could be between 18 and 24, but stressed that the increase depends on the environmental effects.

Alaska Aerospace, while still a state corporation, has not received state operating funds since 2014 and is now self-sustaining. Our business model is to attract the new small commercial launch market to PSCA, generating a positive economic impact in the community, diversifying our state economy, and creating hightech aerospace jobs in Alaska while being a good neighbor and steward of the public lands we use.

Craig Campbell
Alaska Aerospace CEO