Kodiak Launch Complex Upgrade Caught in Spending Freeze

alaska_aerospace_corpFacing a $3.5 billion budget shortfall due to the falling cost of oil, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has ordered work stopped on a handful of major construction projects.

On Friday, Walker issued an administrative order that directs “state agencies to halt to the maximum extent possible discretionary expenditures” for the Ambler Road Project, Juneau Access Project, Susitna-Watana Dam Project, Kodiak Launch Complex, Knik Arm Crossing and Alaska Stand-Alone Pipeline Project.

Kodiak Launch Complex: The state-owned spaceport in Kodiak was damaged by a rocket explosion in August. Alaska Aerospace, the state-owned corporation that operates the spaceport, announced earlier this month that it plans to rebuild its main launch pad to support larger rockets, at a cost of $6 million to $9 million.

The upgrades to the launch paid would accommodate Lockheed Martin’s medium-lift Athena IIS rocket.

Read the full story.

Update: Jeff Foust reports that officials are continuing repairs at the spaceport that resulted from an earlier launch failure. Those repairs are covered by insurance. They are also consulting with the governor’s office on whether the Lockheed Martin agreement is covered by the spending freeze. Compared with many of the other projects affected, this is a relatively low expenditure.

  • windbourne

    Politicians always screw up so much.
    Alaska is 100% dependent on oil income. You would think that by now, they would have a fund for times like this. But, so few politicians think ahead.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    They do have a fund for times like this and they are attempting to ride out this crisis without exhausting it. Responsible stewardship, however dictates that you don’t spend billions on a facility that didn’t even average one launch per year even when times were good. There hasn’t been a launch there since 2011 and once Sen. Ted Stevens left the Senate, even the Federal government has declined to fund the facility.

    While an opinion piece, I found this article very informative:

    http://www.adn.com/article/20140303/time-state-abandon-little-launch-complex-couldn-t

  • windbourne

    wow. Then why spend the money at all? That is a site that should be mothballed and then continue to sell it. In particular, I wonder if SpaceX and Blue Origin will not want it in a couple of years. Though with vandenberg so underutilized, I doubt it.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Admittedly, the guy that wrote the article wasn’t a big supporter. It would be nice if they could find a private concern to buy the facility.

  • Vladislaw

    There is a blog site dedicated to this:

    http://kodiaklaunchcomplex.blogspot.com/

  • Terry Rawnsley

    There’s a blog dedicated to closing it down. With the lack of use and now the damage from the explosion, I’m not sure I disagree with the sentiment.

  • Larry J

    That site is only good for essentially polar and sun synchronous orbital launches, something SpaceX can do from their existing facilities at Vandenberg. As you noted, those facilities aren’t exactly overused, although that could change when they start launching the next generation Iridium satellites in a year or so. From what I’ve seen, the Kodiak site is only configured for solid-fueled rockets. It would cost SpaceX a lot of build all of the infrastructure necessary to process and launch their rockets and payloads.

    It’s conceivable that if Blue Origin is ready to support very high inclination launches, they could be interested in Kodiak. It could be less difficult to set up operations there without having to jump through so many hoops with the Air Force at Vandenberg.