Mark Pieczynski, Orbital vice president of space launch business development, says the Dulles, Va.-based company has spent the past several months eyeing two launch sites on the West Coast that would allow the company to deliver medium-class payloads to high-inclination and sun-synchronous orbits: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and Kodiak Island, Alaska. The company expects to decide on a site before the end of the year, he said.
High-inclination, or near-polar, orbits are typically used for Earth observation because they provide global coverage. Vandenberg and Kodiak are geographically suited for launches to such orbits.
“Vandenberg is a well-known commodity to us; we understand it well,” Pieczynski said in a May 18 interview, noting that the company currently launches Pegasus, Taurus XL and Minotaur rockets from that site.
Orbital us is less familiar with Kodiak Island, he said, though the company does use the launch site for Minotaur missions.
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