Repairs Near Complete, AAC Preps for Mico-Sat, Army

Monday, August 15, 2016 - 10:00

Kodiak Daily Mirror - JoAnn Snoderly

A Saturday ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the near-completion of the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska following a rocket explosion at the Narrow Cape facility two years ago.

In August 2014, a test launch of a hypersonic weapon was terminated by a self-destruct mechanism after a faulty thermal cover interfered with the vehicle’s steering assembly. The explosion that resulted caused extensive damage to the launch facilities, and rebuilding is just now nearing completion.

Alaska Aerospace Corporation CEO Craig Campbell called the rebuild “substantially complete,” with only small finishing touches left on the constructors’ checklist.

AAC is a state-owned corporation that operates the PSCA facility south of Kodiak city.

“There’s still maybe a dozen or two dozen things that need to be finalized before (the constructors’) contract is complete,” Campbell said. He expects all finishing touches to be completed by the end of the calendar year. He said the cost of the rebuild was covered by insurance.

The ceremony was held in the PSCA’s integrated payload processing facility, where attendees were able to gawk at the fresh paint and shiny surfaces of the newly completed building.

Campbell emceed the event and guest speakers included Sen. Gary Stevens, Rep. Louise Stutes, AAC board of directors chair Robert McCoy, Kodiak Chamber of Commerce president Lindsay Knight, Davis Constuctors and Engineers marketing coordinator Jenith Flynn and Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerrol Friend.

The economic benefits a healthy aerospace industry could provide served as a common theme in many of the speeches.

Campbell stressed the need for additional revenue streams in the state as oil and gas revenues plummet, and said the new AAC business strategy is “designed to thrust us into a new future, which is very much an aerospace development future.”

The company has secured two launch contracts since spring: one with the Missile Defense Agency for testing of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system, and another with Vector Space Systems for micro-satellite test launches.

The Vector test is first on the post-rebuild agenda, with a launch likely to occur by the end of this year or in early 2017.

Preparations for THAAD testing are under way, with ground being leveled for launch pads and equipment storage. A life-support area will provide space for about 75 to 100 Army soldiers to camp during those launches, according to AAC director of range operations Barry King.

AAC will also supply launch support services to Rocket Lab, which Campbell hopes will lead to future launches from the PSCA.

By supporting small, private sector aerospace businesses in developing, Campbell says he can build business for the long run.

“We want to try to support (military) missions as best we can, but more importantly, we’re a business community. We want to bring private-sector business to the state in aerospace, to grow the state in a time of need,” he said.