- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - A commercial rocket is expected to launch early next year at a state-owned aerospace company’s facility on Kodiak Island.

Alaska Aerospace Corp. has secured three launch contracts and has a fourth in the works, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Monday.

Ad Astra, a Texas-based aerospace company specializing in advanced plasma rocket propulsion technology, is scheduled for the first launch.

Vector Space Systems is expected to launch from the facility in late 2018 and the company will also support a second Rocket Lab launch in New Zealand in December or early next year.

Company CEO Craig Campbell said he hopes the U.S.-based aerospace company Rocket Lab will be ready to launch in Alaska in 2019.

Alaska Aerospace Corp. first assisted with one of the company’s New Zealand launches in May.

The commercial launches will supplement a contract that Alaska Aerospace Corp. currently holds with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency for defense testing.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system launches in July were the beginning of that contract, and another launch is scheduled for 2018. Launches in 2020 and 2021 are expected as well.

Campbell called those launches classified and didn’t go into detail at a Kodiak Island Borough Assembly meeting last week.

Campbell assured Assembly members that access to Fossil Beach will be preserved when launches and launch preparations are not occurring, despite the possibility that commercial contractors might be given an opportunity to develop their own small launch sites on the state land leased to the Alaska Aerospace Corp.

“We have the right to develop that, but we have to keep Fossil Beach open,” Campbell said.

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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