Commercial company conducts rocket exercise at Kodiak launch facility

A Vector test rocket, or vehicle, housed inside the AAC facility. (Photo by Daysha Eaton / KMXT)

A commercial company that aims to launch small payloads into the earth’s orbit is conducting tests for a future launch from Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s facility at Narrow Cape.

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They’re trying to develop a streamlined rocket, or vehicle, to carry small payloads.

The employees of the company, Vector, are conducting tests with a simulation rocket.

Pacific Spaceport Complex facilities director Bruce Walter enters what looks like a locker room. It’s important that no dust gets through.

“This is where you would don your white robe, if you will. Booties, pants, hoods, and you’d walk through the air bath, which is just a big air Jacuzzi, gets all the dust off of you, HEPA filter’s at the bottom to take the particles out, and then you step into the clean room,” Walter said.

What’s known as the clean room is big and well-lit. The ceiling is so high that it dwarfs anyone that enters. It’s like a cathedral, but for spaceships. This building is where staff prepares satellites, also known as payloads, for launch.

What looks like a rocket is set up on one side of the room. It’s dark grey with orange lettering along the side reading Vector. The company says it’s 43 feet long and 42 inches wide.

Walter explains it’s a test model.

“They’re going through the steps to make sure that all of their procedures work with the real vehicle,” Walter said. “This is a mock up. If you look in the back end of it, it’s just a big, empty tube.”

John Garvey, president of launch services for Vector, says the exercises this week are part of a test run. They’re focusing on the operations, like moving the vehicle around.

“And we’re just trying to establish that as the basis so that when we move up to the next level, issues like transporting it, picking it up, erecting it vertical will already have been accepted as normal so we can start working on the next level of functions,” Garvey said.

Garvey says they were out at the facility on Tuesday for the exercise and continued with exercises Wednesday.

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Kayla Deroches is a reporter at KMXT in Kodiak.