Alaska Aerospace Corporation launches subsidiary with focus on satellites

Alaska Aerospace Corporation launch facility in Narrow Cape. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Aerospace Corporation)

The Alaska Aerospace Corporation launched a subsidiary, Aurora Launch Services, which will focus on providing support for customers to launch vehicles with smaller satellite payloads into orbit.

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Craig Campbell, President and CEO of AAC, says it will also be cheaper because they won’t use state employees anymore, instead hiring contractors for services on demand.

“Now, you’re only paying for the launch services when you need the launch services,” Campbell said. “So, one of the problems we’ve had in the past, or one of the costs we’ve had in the past, has been keeping a large employee force paid on payroll, even when we had no launches. Now you’re only paying for the launch services when you have a customer that is going to launch from your facilities.”

Campbell says the company is wholly owned by AAC. After its 2014 launch failure, the corporation went two years without a launch and laid off many employees, but Campbell says now, business is coming back.

“The best way to now be able to address the business that we’re getting is to just pay by the drink,” Campbell said. “Bring on the people you need for the launch time that you need them and not have to pay them year round. It also is an opportunity to provide more Alaskans jobs and specifically for people that live in Kodiak.”

Most jobs will be in launch operations or facility maintenance, Campbell says. There will be a handful of full-time employees and the number of part-time employees will be flexible and determined by contracts.

Campbell says that the corporation hopes to continue range and telemetry services for a New Zealand launch site as well as add an equatorial launch site in Hawaii or the Mariana Islands in order to offer both polar and equatorial launches.

John Cramer will serve serve as the subsidiary’s president. He says there is no other company that will be able to do what Aurora will do.

“The subsidiary will be able to provide launch services to any customer anywhere in the world to be able to bring in a team to launch their vehicles,” Cramer said.

Cramer said that Aurora should fully operational within the year, and he adds that they could hire their first employees over the next couple of months.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.