Colorado: A Mile Closer to Space

Colorado’s aerospace industry is  generating buzz. Consider this: We hold the No. 1 spot for private-sector aerospace workers per capita; we are home to the second-largest aerospace economy; and more than 500 space-related companies and suppliers do business here.

The Colorado Space Coalition – an industry affiliate of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation – works to bring aerospace companies and talent here and was at the Space Symposium – the premier U.S. space policy and program forum and the “must attend” opportunity for information on and interaction among all sectors of space – in Colorado Springs this spring.

There’s work happening every day that makes Colorado a standout in this industry, and it’s not just the Colorado Space Coalition’s clever tagline. Here are four ways Colorado’s aerospace companies are launching innovative ideas and work:

Better Directions

Earlier this year, DigitalGlobe’s parent company, Maxar Technologies announced it will move its global headquarters to Westminster, Colorado, and will bring 800 jobs with it. From here, they provide the world with the satellite technology for GPS tracking that we use on our smartphones every day.

Rocket Power

Headquartered in Centennial, United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the nation’s most experienced space launch company, with more than 120 consecutive launches and a 100 percent mission success rate. In 2018, ULA began flights of its Atlas V rocket, carrying Boeing’s Starliner capsule in support of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which will return astronauts to space from U.S. soil.

Spacecraft and Ports

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is building the next generation of spacecrafts: Its Dream Chaser is a winged, lifting-body spacecraft designed for missions, including cargo resupply to the International Space Station for NASA. And, Colorado has applied to be home to a spaceport in Adams County. If Spaceport Colorado achieves operational status, the Dream Chaser could land here. For scientists, researchers and medical personnel, the benefits of the near-immediate accessibility afforded by runway landings are unmatched.

Mission to Mars

Virtually every space-related company in Colorado is working on the mission to Mars. NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will be launched by ULA, with the Mars rover scheduled to land in 2021 for a two-year exploration of the Martian surface. Lockheed Martin Space Systems will build the aeroshell and heat shield that will protect the rover during its journey to Mars and descent to the planet’s surface. SNC’s Space Systems will build critical hardware for the rover.

These are just a few examples of Colorado aerospace business in action. Of course there are many other major uses, including military defense and rocket science (literally). For more information on what makes Colorado a mile closer to space, visit the Colorado Space Coalition’s website for the most recent news on projects.

Dani Barger is the senior digital marketing specialist for the Metro Denver EDC.