Kodiak Daily Mirror - Contract could double the size of Alaska Aerospace Corporation
Contract could double the size of Alaska Aerospace Corporation
by Wes Hanna / whanna@kodiakdailymirror.com
Dec 16, 2011 | 246 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KODIAK — A major contract expected before the end of the year could double the number of Alaska Aerospace Corporation employees, CEO Dale Nash told AAC board members during a quarterly meeting Thursday.

The state-owned corporation is pursuing a federal missile defense contract in partnership with Lockheed Martin. Award of the contract was delayed from June to get more details from the team at Lockheed Martin and the competing bidder, Boeing, which has held the contract for the past decade.

The contract, estimated to be worth about $600 million per year, was then again delayed from November to give the government more time to review the competing proposals.

This particular contract would not lead to more rocket launches at the Kodiak Launch Complex, but would have the Alaska Aerospace Corporation “provide maintenance of missile fields and support equipment, and the emplacement and extraction of interceptors,” according to the corporation’s 2010 annual report.

The work would be done at Fort Greely, in Anchorage and at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The board debated and passed a resolution to allow the CEO of the aerospace company the flexibility to accept contracts and begin hiring subcontractors if the contract is awarded to the Lockheed/AAC partnership.

“As I understand it, the reason you are bringing this up now is if the Lockheed contract comes through, you may have to accept money rather quickly and you may have to begin the process of possibly subcontracting or expending money rather quickly,” AAC board member David Weldon said. “The process of waiting for the next quarterly board meeting would be absolutely unworkable.”

Nash said the federal government expects the contract work to get under way soon after the award.

“That’s very unusual,” he said. “They are expecting a very rapid-fire turn on and go.”

There are signs pointing to future rocket launches from the Kodiak Launch Complex.

Nash described an announcement in June at the Small Payload Rideshare Conference from Lockheed Martin and Alliant Techsystems about their intention to have small satellite customers share space on Athena rockets.

That would mean a launch reliably each autumn from the Kodiak Launch Complex beginning in 2013.

The idea has had some success, with customers reserving space on future launches, Nash said.

The Athena rockets could support a payload of four small satellites or 16 CubeSats, Nash said. CubeSats are 10-by-10 centimeter microsatellites that weigh less than 2.9 pounds and are commonly developed for research by universities.

“They haven’t competed the sale of each of the satellites on the 2013 (rocket). They keep saying they’re getting very close, but they also say they believe they have the 2014 almost sold out,” Nash said. “People are talking to them about the 2015 and ’16.”

Having a consistent yearly launch window would definitely be an asset to customers, Nash said.

“It’s really encouraging people to sign up knowing that if they miss this one, they may have to pay something for missing, but they’ll be able to get on the next one,” he said.

The board took a few moments to recognize the successful launch of the TACSAT 4 satellite in September. The satellite has been performing just as expected.

“This has been a great success for both the Office of Naval research and the (Operationally Responsive Space),” said Robert McCoy, director of the Alaska Geophysical Institute, located in Fairbanks.

The aerospace corporation will assist in tracking and telemetry for the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral at the beginning of February.

Contact Mirror writer Wes Hanna at whanna@kodiakdailymirror.com.
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