Rocket Lab to Expand Launch Capability with US Launch Site

Electron launch (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — 10 July 2018 (Rocket Lab PR) — US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has today confirmed plans to expand its launch capability by developing a US launch site, with four US space ports shortlisted to launch the Electron rocket.

Final selection is underway with Cape Canaveral, Wallops Flight Facility, Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base. A decision on the confirmed site, to be named Launch Complex 2, is expected to be made in August 2018.

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Aurora Launch Systems Established to Provide Services at Kodiak

Anchorage, AK — July 6, 2018 (Alaska Aerospace Corporation PR) — Alaska Aerospace today launched Aurora Launch Services as a wholly-owned subsidiary to offer low cost launch services to both commercial and government customers worldwide. Based in Anchorage, Alaska, Aurora Launch Services will be the exclusive provider for launch services at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska, located in Kodiak.

This is an exciting time for Alaska Aerospace as we expand our service capabilities and provide new employment opportunities for Alaskans, in Alaska.” claimed Craig Campbell, Alaska Aerospace President and CEO. “I am proud to announce that Mr. John Cramer has been selected as the first Aurora Launch Services President and he will be building a dynamic team over the next few months designed to provide the lowest cost launch services available in the country from a fully licensed spaceport.” he stated.

Providing streamlined, efficient launch services, based on customer defined requirements will enable Aurora Launch Services to tailor our team specifically to each customer’s unique needs.” said John Cramer. “I look forward to this new horizon of aerospace development in Alaska.” he concluded.

Alaska Aerospace is a state-owned corporation established to develop a high-technology aerospace industry in Alaska. Alaska Aerospace operates the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) located on Kodiak Island offering all indoor, all weather, processing and providing optimal support for both orbital and sub-orbital space launches. Its corporate headquarters is in Anchorage, Alaska with a regional office in Huntsville, Alabama.

Astra Space Scrubs Second Launch Attempt

Astra Space scrubbed another attempt to launch its Rocket 1 booster from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Friday, according to media reports.

The company, which is based in Alamedia, Calif., had planned to launch the booster on a suborbital flight. The rocket is composed of a first stage and a dummy second stage.

Astra Space had a launch window of May 10-11. The company scrubbed an earlier launch attempt in early April.

Astra Space Reschedules Booster Flight Test

Astra Space has rescheduled the inaugural launch of its new smallsat booster for next month from Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

Officials at the Pacific Spaceport Complex did not give a cause for why an April 6 was scrubbed earlier this month, but confirmed the decision was not related to the spaceport facilities, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Friday.

The new launch is scheduled for May 10 or May 11, said Mike Morton, a director of the Alaska Aerospace Corp….

The documents filed last month for the previous planned launch indicated that Astra was authorized to send up a suborbital vehicle to carry “an inert upper stage on a suborbital trajectory without a payload.”

Read the full story.

Alaska Aerospace Clarifies Development Plans for Kodiak Facility

ANCHORAGE, AK (Alaska Aerospace Corporation PR) — Alaska Aerospace today clarified details pertaining to commercial launch activities and development plans at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA), located on Kodiak Island, following misinformation across social media channels.

Alaska Aerospace is responsible for any and all infrastructure development at PSCA, limiting air travel near PSCA, impact to public lands near PSCA and notifying the community of these plans. While Vector Launch Inc. will be conducting an orbital launch at PSCA later this year, Alaska Aerospace does not currently have a contract with Vector or any other commercial launch vendor for construction of a new launch pad at PSCA. Over the last two years, Alaska Aerospace has worked with Vector to explore the establishment of commercial launch operations at existing launch pads at PSCA.

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Astra Space Launch Scrubbed at Last Minute

Astra Space scrubbed a suborbital launch of its Rocket 1 booster on Friday just minutes before the scheduled liftoff, according to press reports.

The cause of the scrub is not known. Nor has there been a new date set for another launch attempt from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

The maiden flight of the new booster would have demonstrated the first stage. The vehicle would have carried a dummy second stage.

Formerly known as Ventions, LLC, Astra Space is working under a $2 million contract with NASA to develop and launch a small-satellite booster. The company is based in Alameda, Calif.

Astra Space Set to Launch From Alaska

Astra Space is set for the first flight of its new small-satellite launcher on Thursday from Alaska.

The FAA has granted a launch license to the California company for a suborbital flight of Rocket 1 from Launch Pad 2 at the Pacific spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

A notice to airmen (NOTAM) about the launch has been posted for April 5 at 2000 UTC and ending on April 6 at 0200 UTC (12 to 6 p.m. AKDT /4 to 10 p.m. EDT).

Details are sparse about the company and booster. However, it is believed that the two-stage rocket will be capable of placing a payload weighing up to 100 kg into orbit.

The Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the Kodiak spaceport, has billed the flight as the first of what it hopes will be many commercial launches from the underused facility.

Formerly known as Ventions LLC, Astra Space is operating under a $2 million contract with NASA to develop and flight test a high performance electric pump-fed launch vehicle. The 18-month contract runs through mid-December.

Founded in 2004, the company has been awarded 29 contracts worth nearly $21 million over the past 11 years from NASA, U.S. Air Force, DARPA, Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Army.

A Closer Look at Astra Space

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

At some point in the next few weeks, the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska will host its first commercial rocket launch. Officials at the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the spaceport, are hoping the suborbital test flight is the first of many commercial flights from the underused facility.

While officials have not identified the California company conducting the launch, a perusal of the corporation’s board minutes indicate it is almost certainly a small Bay Area startup named Astra Space.

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Polar Launches Could Be Coming to Florida

Minotaur-C launch from Vandenberg. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Already experiencing a surge in launches, Florida’s Space Coast could become even busier with the additional of polar orbit launches.

The Air Force has opened a “polar corridor” that would allow certain rockets to launch spacecraft from Cape Canaveral into north-south orbits circling the poles, a development that could bring more launches to Florida.

Polar launches historically have been flown from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s Central Coast, where a small number of missions each year fly south over the Pacific Ocean toward Antarctica.

Cape launches most often head east to send satellites on their way around the equator. Polar trajectories have been avoided since a 1960 Navy launch inadvertently dropped a Thor rocket stage on Cuba, reportedly killing a cow.

But now, says Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, commander of the 45th Space Wing, “We can shoot south.”

No near-term missions plan to use the new polar corridor, but over time it could lead to more Cape launches and consolidation of the nation’s launch infrastructure.

This change would not be very good news to Vandenberg or the Pacific Space Complex — Alaska, which both host polar orbit launches.

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A Tale of 2 Launch Ranges: The Best & Worst of Times

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

America’s Eastern and Western launch ranges in Florida and California are struggling to keep up with increasing demand from the nation’s booming commercial launch industry while dealing with budget uncertainties in Washington, U.S. Air Force officials said last week.

The Eastern Range has been dealing with a surge of flights this year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as SpaceX has increased its launch cadence. Elon Musk’s company and rival United Launch Alliance (ULA) has launched 18 times from Florida thus far, with two more SpaceX flights on the schedule for later this month.

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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Helping to Keep Alaska Aerospace in Business

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army soldiers of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, conducted a successful missile defense test on July 30 using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. (Credit: MDA)

The nuclear missile threat posed by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has proven to be a lifeline to the Alaska Aerospace Corporation and its little used Kodiak launch facilities.

Twice during the past month, the U.S. Army launched Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interceptors from the The Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak. The tests were done under an $80.4 million contract with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

The contract helped revive the struggling agency, which suffered serious damage to its launch facilities in 2014 after a U.S. Army rocket exploded shortly after takeoff. The state-run corporation is eyeing the booming small-satellite market.

One commercial contract that is signed and scheduled for December is with a new space company that cannot now be identified, Campbell said.

Vector Space Systems, an Arizona-based company formerly known as Garvey Spacecraft, has also signed with Alaska Aerospace for test flights of its new Nanosat Launch Vehicle, the Vector-R, in 2018.

A contract that still in negotiation for launches planned in 2018 and 2019, is with Rocket Lab USA, a California-based company that has been in the space business for several years.

Rocket Lab now wants to use Kodiak for launches of its new “Electron” rocket, Campbell said.

Another company in discussions for launches in 2019 is Zero Point Frontiers, based in Alabama, for its 55-foot Xbow Launch Vehicle that will launch small satellites to orbit.

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Alaska Officials Re-dedicate Pacific Spaceport Complex

Craig Campbell, Lindsay Knight, Jenith Flynn, Dr. Robert McCoy, Sen. Gary Stevens and Rep. Louise Stutes re-dedicate the Pacific Spaceport Complex -- Alaska. (Credit: AAC)
Craig Campbell, Lindsay Knight, Jenith Flynn, Dr. Robert McCoy, Sen. Gary Stevens and Rep. Louise Stutes re-dedicate the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska. (Credit: AAC)

KODIAK, AK. (AAC PR) — On Saturday, August 13th, Alaska Aerospace Corporation and the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) commemorating completion of the rebuilding of damaged facilities caused by the launch failure in August 2014.

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MDA Eyes Kodiak Launch Complex for Missile Defense Flight Tests

Credit: Alaska Aerospace Corp.
Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska (Credit: Alaska Aerospace Corp.)

There was some good news last week for the Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC), which has struggled to find users for the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska (PSCA) on Kodiak Island.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced that it would award AAC a contract to support flight tests for the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) at the spaceport. The contract has a five-year base with a single one-year option.

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AAC and Garvey Spacecraft Deliver First Rocket to Kodiak

P-19 rocket on Kodiak Island (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft Corporation)
P-19 rocket on Kodiak Island (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft Corporation)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AAC PR) – Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) and Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) achieved an important milestone in their collaborative venture to path-find operations for a commercial nanosat launch vehicle at AAC’s Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSC-A) on Kodiak Island. Just one month after starting, the team worked through the logistics to enable GSC to ship a prototype first stage and then successfully demonstrate on-site fuel loading into the vehicle.

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Garvey Spacecraft to Conduct Flights Out of Alaska

Garvey rocket launch in the Mojave. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft Corporation)
Garvey rocket launch in the Mojave. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft Corporation)

Anchorage, AK (AAC PR) – Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) has announced its selection of Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s Pacific Spaceport Complex–Alaska (PSCA) on Kodiak Island as host range for the next phase of the company’s Nanosat Launch Vehicle (NLV) flight test program.

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