The Alaska state budget for fiscal year 2015 currently making its way through the Legislature gives $2 million less to the Alaska Aerospace Corporation than the previous budget, but the state-owned company’s leaders say it’s all part of the plan.
“It’s not a cut,” AAC vice president and COO Mark Greby said Tuesday. “It’s a planned reduction that we proposed to the state.”
Greby is in Kodiak this week on a regular monthly visit to AAC’s Kodiak Launch Complex at Cape Chiniak.
The state House of Representatives passed a bill last weekend that gives $6 million to AAC under the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. No change in the allocation is expected from the Senate.
Greby said AAC suggested this reduction and subsequent annual $2 million reductions in anticipation of shrinking state budgets and as a way to keep the corporation “self-motivated” on the path to profitability. AAC reported operating at a loss of $4.1 million in 2013, compared to $6.84 million the previous year.
However, Greby does not expect the state to let its contribution drop all the way to zero.
“Because the state owns us, they probably want some skin in the game,” he said.
Since the last launch from KLC in September 2011, AAC has earned income mainly through providing tracking services for rockets launched elsewhere.
“Bring money, we’ll track it for you,” Greby said.
Greby said AAC has a launch in the pipeline, but could not give details about the timeline or the nature of the rocket because that information is controlled by the prospective customer.
“It’s not something we’re allowed to share,” he said. “It’s just part of the business.”
Greby confirmed AAC is not currently pursuing a proposed barge landing facility in Pasagshak near KLC. The barge landing would allow delivery of large rocket components directly to the launch area without tying up the road from Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport.
“We want that in place for our Launch Pad 3,” he said.
Plans to construct a third launch pad at KLC to accommodate medium-lift rockets are on hold due to lack of funding and customers.
Medium-lift rockets are larger than anything KLC has launched so far. Greby said that while it is possible to transport the components by road, that would cause more disruption than moving parts for smaller rockets.
“These are not normal (semitrailer)-size things in wither length or breadth,” he said.