Unalaska was visited by a tech startup in 2020 as a possible satellite launch site, and the company claims it is finalizing its decision. Despite the fact that contact between the firm and the city started to deteriorate earlier this year, this startup claims that Unalaska is still a contender. Ugadaga Bay was suggested by SpinLaunch as a potential location for constructing a giant centrifuge to deploy satellites into the low Earth orbit. The project would almost certainly need the construction of a road along Ugadaga Trail, which is a famous hiking trail and landmark Unangax commerce route.
Visitors must traverse public land to get to Ugadaga Bay, which is held by the Ounalashka Corporation, the island’s Native village corporation. The Los Angeles-based company wants to deploy satellites utilizing kinetic energy rather than a typical rocket launch technique that is primarily reliant on fuel. According to Diane Murphy, who is a SpinLaunch spokesperson, “SpinLaunch is in the last phases of analyzing a huge number of launch sites.” They’re not going to say anything until that decision has been made.
Much of the land which would be used is owned by the Ounalashka Corp., a private firm, and city officials were hesitant to discuss the topic. As a result, KUCB requested data from the city to have a better understanding of the situation. The 20-acre site would be located along Ugadaga Bay Trail, among the community’s most popular hiking paths, as well as a historic commerce path between Iliuliuk and Biorka towns, according to city planning documents.
In September 2020, representatives from the space technology business came to Unalaska to give a presentation to city leaders about their ambitions to collaborate with the community. Shortly after, emails between city authorities explore the hazards and benefits of hosting SpinLaunch in Unalaska.
Unalaska Director in charge of the Public Utilities Dan Winters described SpinLaunch as an “excellent idea for Unalaska” in an email between city officials. In a September 2020 email, Winters stated, “This is a terrific opportunity to bring additional money into its economy via new technology.” Unalaska’s Director of Public Works, Tom Cohenour, praised SpinLaunch’s ability to assist diversify the local economy.
However, Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin expressed reservations about Unalaska’s long-term economic benefits. “It sounds like Unalaska would be the ideal location for SpinLaunch, but SpinLaunch has little or nothing to offer in the long run,” McLaughlin answered.
McLaughlin told KUCB last week that she had inquired about Unalaska’s long-term prospects, including job opportunities, housing construction, and an influx of students. She claims she exited the September 2020 discussion with more questions unanswered since SpinLaunch failed to give satisfactory explanations.