Kodiak launch site hopes for its first space tourism launch

Office of Naval Research-sponsored tactical satellite IV (TacSat-4) lifts-off form the Alaskan Aerospace Corporation’s Kodiak Launch Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Human spaceflights are coming to Kodiak.

On Thursday the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, announced that a Florida-based space tourism company called Space Perspective is planning to bring human spaceflight operations to Kodiak Island.

These flights will take up to eight passengers and crew in a vehicle called the Neptune Spaceship.

SEE ALSO: Anchorage bids to become headquarters for revamped Space Command

According to Space Perspective, the Neptune Spaceship is currently the only near-zero emission vehicle that allows humans to travel to the edge of space. The space vehicle features a comfortable capsule under a large space balloon.

Jane Poynter, co-founder and co-CEO of Space Perspective said, “Looking down on Kodiak Island over Alaska will be a breathtaking view from our Neptune Spaceship, and I look forward to showing our Explorers the aurora borealis from that vantage.”

Mark Lester, CEO of Alaska Aerospace added, “Conducting space tourism trips is an exciting opportunity for Kodiak and Alaska.”

Space Perspective plans to launch Alaska balloon flights from the Pacific Spaceport, which will cruise along the edge of space at over 100,000 feet for nearly two hours. Post-flight capsule recovery will be conducted by a dedicated ship prepositioned in the waters around Kodiak and the Aleutian Island chain depending upon the seasonal wind patterns.

Alaska Aerospace’s role in this venture is to assist Space Perspective with spaceflight licenses from the FAA, test systems, and refine spaceport operations to ensure safe and efficient operations.

This annoucement comes after a week of significant news around the Alaska aerospace industry.  Astra, another spaceflight company that has recently attempted launches from the Kodiak spaceport, announced they will attempt another launch this July, and Anchorage formally entered a bid to become headquarters for US Space Command. In that bid, Governor Mike Dunleavy referred to Kodiak’s launching capabilities as an example that Alaska is ready to bolster its aerospace industry.

But don’t expect space tourism to hit Kodiak any time soon. Mark Lester said that test flights are beginning in Florida this year, with operations in Kodiak still several years away.

In the meantime, you can watch a demonstration of the vehicle here.