Launch

A helicopter conducts a sweep to make sure the area is clear prior to a scheduled launch at the Pacific Spaceport Complex Sunday.

KODIAK — A California-based rocket company is considering a permanent home in Kodiak.

Rocket Lab, headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif., announced Tuesday it’s looking to build a dedicated launch complex in the U.S. to complement its current site in New Zealand.

The Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak is one of four finalists for the new site, dubbed Launch Complex 2, according to a press release issued Tuesday. Other finalists include Florida’s Cape Canaveral, the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, and the Vandenberg Air Force Base, in southern California.

“Launching from U.S. soil adds an extra layer of flexibility for our government and commercial customers,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO, via press release.

Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1, located on the southern tip of the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, is currently the only private orbital launch site in the world.

The new site will be designed to support the company’s Electron rocket, with a dedicated launch pad and infrastructure.

At 57-feet, the relatively small Electron vehicle is meant for carrying small satellites into space.

The company conducted two successful test launches, in May of 2017 and January of this year. But this summer, two attempts to put satellites into orbit – in a mission dubbed “It’s Business Time” – were postponed due to technical issues.

In a press release, the company said it hopes the new site will see monthly orbital launches. 

The Alaska Aerospace Corporation is currently under contract with Rocket Lab to provide launch services at their New Zealand spaceport. 

If the Pacific Spaceport Complex is chosen for Launch Complex 2, it would be the first time a designated launch pad were established for a commercial spaceflight company at the Kodiak spaceport.

A final decision will be made in August, the company said, at which point construction will begin immediately.

The first mission is tentatively planned for Spring 2019, according to the release.

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