With no launches until 2014 at the earliest, the Alaska Aerospace Corporation is in a “valley,” its administrators said Thursday, and will continue to rely on state subsidies to stay running.
In a Juneau meeting of the state-owned corporation’s board of directors, chief executive officer Craig Campbell and chief operating officer Mark Greby said they’re working on a new marketing strategy and trying to diversify the company’s business model.
“We refocused on how we're going to take the lead role,” Greby said.
In the meantime, AAC will rely upon state funding.
According to documents from the state’s office of management and budget, the proposed FY2014 budget includes $10.5 million from the state to the corporation, which was intended to be self-sustaining.
Of that total, $8 million will come from the state’s general fund and will be spent to keep the lights on at Kodiak Launch Complex.
Campbell said some cuts may come to the budget as it advances through legislative committees, and he feels the corporation can withstand a 1 percent cut by limiting contributions to organizations like chambers of commerce. If a 3 percent or five percent cut is made, he said, he isn’t sure.
According to AAC’s latest annual report, the state has spent $30.6 million since the AAC was created in the late 1990s. The corporation has received an additional $149.7 million in federal grants and has earned $140.5 million in launch revenue.
Kodiak Launch Complex saw no launches in 2012 and will see no launches this year, but Campbell and Greby said they’re working to change that by intensifying their marketing and offering to host a national space conference in order to attract more attention.
AAC is also considering the purchase of one or more Global Hawk drones and renting time on them to interested organizations. Buying surplus drones from the Air Force has been a complicated process, however, and Congressional action is needed to free them.
A planned expansion of the Kodiak Launch Complex is in limbo until Lockheed Martin finds a customer for its Athena II medium-lift rocket that would use the Kodiak spaceport. Lockheed has committed to Kodiak as its West Coast launch site, but it has not booked any launches.
Orbital Sciences’ new Antares rocket is another option for Kodiak, but that company has not committed to a West Coast launch site yet, and East Coast tests of the Antares have been troubled.
“We have people interested, but we're not going to spend a whole lot (on a new launch pad) until we know who we're going to be working with,” Campbell said.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.