Rockets probably won't lift off this year from the Kodiak Launch Complex

Posted: Tuesday, February 29, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- Rockets likely won't lift off the launch pad at the Kodiak Launch Complex this year.

The NASA launch scheduled for September will probably be delayed until spring of 2001 and three military launch contracts also are in the works, according to state aerospace agency and military officials. As many as four rockets may lift off next year.

The official launch window for the Lockheed Martin rocket, which would put a NASA earth-monitoring satellite into orbit, is Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. But it will likely be pushed back until next spring, Rick Malone, director of Lockheed Martin small launch vehicles, said in November when he was in Kodiak.

First up, then, would be a U.S. Air Force launch scheduled for March. Air Force space operations officer Lt. Col. Gail Ramsey said the launch will take advantage of military aircraft and ships in the North Pacific for Northern Edge 2001, an annual training exercise for all branches in the military.

''It will be a suborbital launch that will be used in the missile defense portion of the exercise that will include a Navy aegis cruiser to track the missile,'' Ramsey said.

The launch in March is not part of a target intercept program, she said. That is, the missile launched from Kodiak will not be a target for another missile downrange to intercept, or shoot down.

''The launch is providing a target for the Navy's theater-wide program,'' she added. ''There's no intercept, just tracking and radar data collection.''

''Alaska is really good for this. We make use of what (the Northern Edge 2001 participants) are doing,'' Ramsey said. ''It really is an advantage.''

A U.S. Army web page last year listed ''theater targets'' missions and named Kodiak as the launch site for four long-range target launches, one in 1999 and three in 2000.

Ramsey, an Air Force officer, said she didn't know anything about the Army's programs. But she explained that the term ''theater'' means area or region. A mission involving theater defense program, then, refers to an exercise testing the defense capabilities of a particular region.

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