Reconfiguration would allow launch for larger rockets and medium-sized payloads
- Four contractors bidding
- … "what we've been trying to achieve for a number of years.
- Final details to be negotiated
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. is the apparent winner of a bidding process organized to coordinate a remodeling of Alaska’s Kodiak Launch Complex, aiming to reconfigure the site to expand the range of rockets able to be launched there. The site is operated by the state-owned Alaska Aerospace Corp., which revealed its choice of Lockheed in the bidding.
Lockheed has not commented on the project.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems is one four business units of Lockheed Martin, and manufactures commercial and military satellites, space probes, missile defense systems, and numerous orbital systems for NASA. As defense spending has been curtailed in recent years, Lockheed has favored its Space Systems unit against other divisions marked for downsizing.
It apparently bested three other bidders for the project, though details of the competition were not revealed.
According to Alaska Aerospace president and CEO Craig Campbell, Lockheed’s proposal represents "what we've been trying to achieve for a number of years. And we're at the point now, we're at the cusp of being able to really expand our operation and do the stuff that Alaskans have always wanted."
After it is reconfigured, the KLC launch pad would be able to launch small- or medium-lift rockets.
The cost of the project is not known, though Campbell said it would be less than the $21 million cited in its RFP.
The Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, off Alaska’s southern coast, is a commercial facility developed by Alaska Aerospace for sub-orbital and orbital space launch vehicles.
Currently, KLC is suitable of launching small rockets, but medium-sized rockets that carry larger payloads and into higher orbits present a greater opportunity for revenue. Alaska Aerospace indicated that Lockheed Martin proposes to modify the launch pad so its own Athena IIS rocket and other medium-lift rockets can be launched from there.
Alaska Aerospace and Lockheed are expected to finalize an agreement within weeks, but agency officials – who have a $25-million state appropriation to expand the KLC, and the agency indicated it is important to signal its expansion plans to companies that are preparing to select rocket launch sites for their projects.
Reportedly, Lockheed’s proposal would have the site available to stage three Athena medium-payload launches from KLC by 2020.