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The Alaskan Space Industry

Alaska has a growing space industry.  Since 2000 there has gradually been an increase in the commercial space industry, which is predicted to continue to grow.  The military industrial complex has been a staple for space since Alaska was a territory, especially in regards to the use of various satellites, national security, and observatories.  Eielson AFB has the second longest operational runway that can be used for a space shuttle landing.  Clear Space Force Station site was redesignated from being an air force station and reopened in June 2015.


The other long-time player in Alaska’s space industry is the University of Alaska.  The university has a multitude of space programs and government contracts with the DoD, NASA, NOAA, Army, Air Force, and Space Force.


Programs Through The University of Alaska



Alaska is also home to the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, opened in 1998, operated by Alaska Aerospace.  This facility can handle sub-orbital and orbital launches of small and light-lift launch vehicles and stratospheric balloons.  They have worked with military clients, university clients, and commercial clients like RocketLab and SpaceX.




The Launch Company

The majority of the more recent space industry players tend to fall within telecommunication, remote sensing and geospatial, and launch vehicles.  It is speculated that we will see an increase in companies specializing in launch vehicles, robotics, telecom, and space tourism over the next 20 years.  There has been an increase in robotics and drone/UAS usage in the state.  UAF has the nation’s top UAS program (ACUASI) and recently expanded with a drone hangar in Nenana.  Robotics are being tested in Alaska, recently with Yarbo’s robotic snow blower operating in Anchorage.  There is also an increase of medical robotics, such as the Da Vinci system, being utilized in Anchorage.



You’ll notice in the club links below that there are quite a few ham radio clubs, some robotics clubs (mostly for K-12), some rocketry clubs, and one astronomical society in the state.  While there are only two links for robotics clubs listed, be aware that nearly every high school in the state has a robotics club.



Clubs


READERS - What are your thoughts on the space industry in Alaska? Could it be a place for cold weather testing for robots? Could it be a good spot to develop space habitats?

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