Rendering of Athena 2S rocket on the pad at Kodiak Launch Complex. Credit: Alaska Aerospace Corp.

WASHINGTON — Alaska Aerospace Corp. has selected Lockheed Martin to use a renovated launch pad at the Kodiak Launch Complex for the company’s Athena 2S launch vehicle, the state-owned corporation announced Dec. 12.

Alaska Aerospace selected Lockheed Martin from four proposals it received in November to provide medium-lift launch services from the spaceport. The state was offering up to $25 million, appropriated by the state legislature in 2012, to companies willing to using Kodiak for launches of their vehicles.

The Athena 2S will use Launch Pad 1 at Kodiak, which was damaged in a failed test of the U.S. Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon in August. Repairs to the launch pad, paid for out of the state’s insurance plan, are underway, Alaska Aerospace president and chief executive Craig Campbell said in a Dec. 12 interview.

Upgrades to the pad to support the Athena 2S will be incorporated into those pad repairs, at an estimated cost of $3 million to $5 million, Campbell said. That work will be completed by October 2015.

The upgrades will be paid out of the $25 million, he said, with the option to use the remaining funds to develop an integration facility in Anchorage to support Athena launches and other aerospace activity, which Lockheed Martin included in its proposal.

Craig Campbell, Alaska Aerospace Corp.
Craig Campbell

“We think we’ve got a very good team now for medium-lift capability at the Kodiak Launch Complex,” Campbell said.

Lockheed Martin has yet to announce any customers for the Athena 2S, a version of the company’s Athena 2 solid-propellant launch vehicle that adds up to six strap-on boosters to place payloads weighing up to 3,000 kilograms into sun-synchronous orbits. The first launches from Kodiak would take place in late 2016 or early 2017, according to the company.

“We are pursuing several opportunities for our first launch out of Kodiak, and we hope to make an announcement in the very near future,” Steve Skladanek, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, said Dec. 12.


Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...