A state-owned Alaska aerospace company has chosen Alabama for the location of its first permanent out-of-state office, with the goal of bringing more business back home to Alaska, even as it continues to mull a move toward becoming a private company.
The Anchorage-based Alaska Aerospace Corp. announced Monday that it is opening a new office in Huntsville, Alabama, thanks to strong demand and aerospace industry growth in the northeastern part of that state.
"We are aggressively doing business development, and Huntsville is a good market for our future," said AAC President and CEO Craig Campbell.
Alaska Aerospace's core business area is space launch, and it owns and operates the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska in Kodiak. The majority of the government launches Alaska Aerospace has done have been for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, headquartered in Huntsville, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, which also has an office there.
"If we have a local office there, it gives them local contact," Campbell said. "Our goal is to make it attractive to be in Alaska for test programs."
Nicknamed Rocket City, Huntsville is an aerospace industry hub and home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Campbell said that by opening a Huntsville office -- located at 7027 Old Madison Pike NW -- the company will be well-positioned to respond to customer needs in the future.
Alaska Aerospace launched 17 rockets between 1998 to 2015, according to its website. The company's spaceport in Kodiak was damaged when a rocket exploded four seconds into the most recent launch in 2014. Six months after that incident, the company floated the idea of privatizing, with Campbell telling the Associated Press Monday that the corporation's board has recommended pursuing privatization.
State law would have to be changed to allow for the corporation to become a private entity, Campbell said, and that the recommendation has been delivered to Gov. Bill Walker.
Campbell said he considers it an expectation that once the corporation becomes profitable the state be repaid for investments it made in the corporation. Over the last six years or so, the state has put about $30 million toward operations and sustainment funding, he said, along with additional funds for infrastructure.
Campbell said the corporation will be profitable by year's end. Terms and a timeline for repaying the state have not been determined.
The company doesn't have any upcoming launches under contract at this time.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.