The Alaska Aerospace Corporation has one launch on its 2014 schedule and is pursuing three more for future years, AAC chief operations officer Mark Greby said Thursday.
The news came during the state-owned corporation’s board meeting in Anchorage.
“Things are coming in,” Greby said.
He declined to say what companies have expressed interested in launches from Kodiak’s Narrow Cape spaceport, and the board discussed details of the proposals behind closed doors.
Company CEO Craig Campbell said Alaska Aerospace has been “dynamic” in pursuing contracts over the past three months.
Those contracts aren’t limited to rocket launches. They also include drone flights and monitoring the launches of other spaceports. “We can do a lot more than just launch government rockets out of Kodiak,” Campbell said.
While AAC may not win all three launch contracts it is pursuing, Greby said, the idea is to have as many potential customers as possible in order to improve the company’s odds. “We’ve got people coming in the door now,” he said. “We’ll get some of them.”
AAC is facing pressure from a budget-minded Alaska Legislature to come up with commercial contracts to balance state subsidies.
Last winter, several members of the Alaska House of Representatives said they needed to see a commercial launch contract before approving more money for Alaska Aerospace. It is not yet clear whether the 2014 launch, announced in May, will meet that request.
While company leaders were optimistic about small-lift launches from Kodiak, Campbell said the market for medium-lift launches is “less optimistic.”
Alaska Aerospace has plans to add a third launchpad to Kodiak Launch Complex but has been slowed by a lack of commercial interest. Launchpad 3 would be larger than any yet built in Kodiak and is being designed to support medium-lift rockets.
Campbell said Orbital Sciences, one of AAC’s potential partners in the Launchpad 3 project, probably will not be making a decision on a West Coast launch site in the near future.
Orbital, one of the largest rocket builders in the United States, is focused on fine-tuning operations at Wallops Flight Station in Virginia, home to its East Coast launches. Campbell said Orbital believes it can launch satellites into polar orbits (normally Kodiak’s domain) from Virginia.
If that happens, there may be a demand for AAC to support those launches.
“If we're not going to get them coming to Alaska, we'd like to at least get part of the business they're going to be doing on the East Coast,” Campbell said.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at email@example.com.