But in recent years Kodiak Island has become known for something else. Star Wars. Hard to believe?
In 1992 the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation’s (AADC) was created and built the Kodiak Launch Complex. The people of the island organized to fight this development saying that putting a rocket launch facility on this pristine island would severely impact the fishing and tourist industry.
The public was promised that the launch complex wouldn't have any significant impact on the environment though Republican Sen. Ted Stevens made sure that no Environmental Impact Statement was required. The promoters of the launch complex also assured island residents that all launches would be for civilian uses, there would be no military role for the facility.
Local activists though knew better than to trust the assurances of these politicians. They smelled something fishy going on. They learned that each launch could release approximately 23,500 pounds of hydrochloric acid into the atmosphere and other dangerous substances into the ocean. They knew that this contamination could over time have tremendous negative impact on the local environment. (At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, after each space launch, there are significant fish kills due to the accumulation of toxic exhaust pollutants in the water.)
People also worried what would happen to wayward missiles that failed to properly launch.
As it turns out the only launches from the Kodiak spaceport so far have been military tests.
According to Alaska activist, and Global Network board member Stacey Fritz, "Until 2001, the Air Force with its Atmospheric Interceptor Tests had been the Kodiak Launch Complex's only customer. More of those tests are planned, but in 2001 the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command arranged for the AADC to host twenty of the U.S. Army Strategic Target System missile tests, commonly known as the STARS program. These are the missiles that simulate incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles fired from Asia so that the military in the South Pacific can attempt to intercept them in mid-air with the latest missile defense technology. "
Things now seem to be picking up even more for the Kodiak site as the AADC announced last December that the "Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC) requires a dedicated rocket motor storage facility and an additional launch pad. KLC’s existing two launch pads are right next to each and can not be used simultaneously, thereby limiting customers and launches. The additional facilities will allow multiple launch customers to be on site simultaneously, double KLC’s launch capabilities, and result in KLC being a full service spaceport. AADC is currently developing a long-term relationship with the U.S. Air Force. The USAF plans on initiating the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program with the goal of having launch on demand capability – placing national defense assets in orbit with very little lead time. KLC is an attractive launch site for the ORS program because the KLC offers flexible launch scheduling not available at other U.S. launch sites; and launches from KLC avoid populated areas, environmentally sensitive areas, and congested air routes."
The AADC is requesting $35 million for these launch site upgrades.
Once more we see how the military industrial complex lies their way into a community with false promises. Then once established, they dramatically expand their operations. Any chance to protect the community from this rampant militarism is lost as the local economy becomes reliant on the few jobs created and the local political class and media become subservient to the big money thrown around.
This story is being repeated daily across the nation and around the world as the military empire gobbles up community after community for bases, training facilities, and weapons testing.