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Talk of Closing Kodiak Launch Is Premature, Exec Says

By | August 26, 2014

This is an update to a previous story: “Experimental Rocket Explodes After Launch at Kodiak”

In the aftermath of yesterday morning’s rocket explosion at the Kodiak Launch Complex, calls for the facility’s closure have resumed. Never universally popular among Kodiak residents, the KLC has had only one launch in the past three years, yesterday’s, and that blew up, causing what appears to be significant damage to the launch tower and assembly buildings.

According to Alaska Aerospace CEO Craig Campbell, there are currently no other launches scheduled.

However, Campbell says it would be premature to conclude that yesterday’s explosion and ensuing damage would bring an end to the Kodiak Launch Complex.

In an email to KMXT, Campbell said a damage assessment and repair estimate will be made over the next week, and that the AAC’s legal counsel and the state’s risk management office will be looking into who is liable for the damages. The U.S. Army leased the Kodiak Launch Complex for $5 million to test its hypersonic glider. Campbell said it’s his intention that AAC “will remain a viable aerospace company for the state of Alaska.”

Formed by the state of Alaska, the AAC has depended heavily on state subsidies, but Campbell said the corporation has no intention to ask the state for capital improvement funds to repair the explosion damage to the Kodiak Launch Complex.

No official photos of the damage at the KLC or debris surrounding it on Narrow Cape have been released. However an aerial photo taken by Kodiak’s Eric Schwantes and posted to Facebook shows extensive superficial damage to both the launch tower and assembly buildings at the launch site. Hundreds of scraps of sheets metal siding can be seen strewn around the structures. The extent of structural damage is not yet known. No damage to the launch control buildings two miles away has been reported.

In an email to KMXT yesterday evening, Alaska Aerospace’s Senior Vice President Mark Greby said road closure restrictions have been moved back. KMXT had reported that yesterday, but the Alaska Department of Transportation later announced the road would be closed at the mouth of the Pasagshak River, before it goes up the bluff. That changed at 9 o’clock last night, when the closure was moved back to the gates of the Kodiak Launch Complex, allowing access to Surfer Beach. Fossil Beach remains inaccessible.

In what is likely to be a well attended and lively meeting, Campbell said the corporation’s board of directors will be meeting in Kodiak on Thursday.

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