Local construction crews have cleared all of the debris from the Kodiak Launch Complex and the damaged facilities will be back in operation by the end of this year, Alaska Aerospace Corp. officials said Tuesday.
“The demolition contractors and personnel from companies like Central Environmental Inc., and others have been fantastic,” said Barry King, director of launch operations, in a news release. “They were efficient, thorough and very capable, and thanks to them, we are maintaining schedule and our budget in order to be ready to launch as soon as possible.”
The damaged facilities are being readied for repair work that is planned for the spring and summer, the news release said. It said the termination of a U.S. Army rocket in August resulted in significant damage to the facilities around the complex’s Launch Pad 1.
Engineering inspection determined that majority of the buildings were “structurally sound, but some siding, structural steel, mechanical systems and electrical components needed to be replaced,” the release said.
Craig Campbell, president and CEO of Alaska Aerospace Corp., told the Senate Finance Committee last month he does not believe shutting down the corporation and the Kodiak Launch Complex that it owns and operates would be a good decision, given the investment that’s been made and the future opportunities.
Campbell said a mistake was to focus only on launching small rockets. He said the corporation was not intended to be a Kodiak Launch Complex. The mission was to focus on aerospace development and work with the university system, he said.
A review board that investigation the failed Aug. 25 rocket launch said an external thermal protective cover interfered with the launch vehicle’s steering assembly, resulting in termination of the launch shortly after liftoff.
The payload under test, an extremely fast experimental weapon described by the U.S. military as “a hypersonic glide body in test configuration,” ended in an explosion when an operator triggered a self-destruct mechanism.
England’s Daily Mirror newspaper said the weapon was worth $44 million and is part of a U.S. government program to create a missile that could destroy targets anywhere on Earth within an hour of getting data and permission to launch. It said the glider was capable of traveling at several times the speed of sound and can reach speeds greater than 3,500 mph.
The corporation leased the facility for $5 million to the Department of Defense for the launch, which was controlled by the military and its contractors.
The corporation’s news release on Tuesday said Kodiak Launch Complex, after the repair work, would feature the latest equipment “within the scope of the project.”
“This, along with our schedule, is important due to continued discussions Alaska Aerospace is having with numerous customers who are interested in launching from KLC as soon as the facility is operational,” the release also said.
Roni Toldanes is managing editor of the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact him at (907) 486-3227.