In the shadow of across-the-board cuts in state spending, the Alaska Aerospace Corporation Board of Directors held a quarterly meeting in Juneau Thursday to discuss the future of the state-owned company that operates the Kodiak Launch Complex.
“We’re not worried,” said board member and Kodiak resident Tom Walters, who took part in the meeting by telephone.
Over the weekend the Alaska House of Representatives passed a budget that cuts $2 million from the state’s annual contribution to AAD, according to a story in Sunday’s Juneau Empire.
That and similar cuts anticipated for the following years have put the kibosh on a planned expansion at the KLC that would have allowed the launch of medium lift rockets, which carry heavier payloads than the facility can accommodate now.
“We’re not going to move on until we see the contract,” Walters said.
Walters said AAC’s near-term budgets will focus on operations rather than expansion. He noted the company’s income does not depend solely on the high-profile launches from Kodiak.
“We’ve got a lot of diversification,” he said. “We’ve been making good money out of tracking.”
AAC has a hand in tracking rockets launched from other facilities, including Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va.
Walter’s said the cut in state funding does not represent a withdrawal of support from the Legislature, which is implementing wide-ranging cuts.
“We’re not the only ones suffering,” he said.
In its 2013 annual report, AAC reported revenues of $8.56 million. The net loss of $4.1 million for that year compares to a loss of $6.84 million in 2012.
The last rocket to blast off from KLC, a successful multiple-payload orbital civilian launch, was in September 2011. A long-standing valuable contract with the Missile Defense Agency to launch target drones expired in 2012 and was not renewed.
Walters said AAC is in serious discussions with civilian and corporate customers about possible future launches from Kodiak and he feels confident the venture will eventually operate in the black.
“Sooner or later you gotta stand on your own two feet,” Walters said.
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