The fact that we're a mile closer to space is just part of the story.
Metro Denver is first among the 50 largest metros for total private aerospace workers with 19,810 people employed at aerospace companies. Colorado has the nation's third-largest aerospace economy and is home to four military commands, eight major space contractors, and more than 400 aerospace companies and suppliers.
The nation's top aerospace contractors have significant operations in Metro Denver: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., The Boeing Company, Exelis, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Launch Alliance. The Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region also has a strong cluster of companies involved in geospatial technologies, remote sensing, imaging, and related industries.
Metro Denver companies are leading the nation's most significant space contracts. Louisville-based Sierra Nevada Corporation is changing the commercial space landscape with its Dream Chaser space transportation system, and Lockheed Martin in Littleton is developing the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle that could potentially carry astronauts into deep space.
Many of Colorado's aerospace companies played crucial roles in some of the most exciting recent NASA missions, including the Mars Science Laboratory and the Juno spacecraft mission to Jupiter. Additionally, NASA awarded contracts totaling $1.8 billion to Colorado aerospace companies in 2012, earning the state a third-place ranking nationally.
In April 2012, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed SB 35 into law, limiting liability for companies that would operate space flights in Colorado. Front Range Airport in Adams County is in the process of applying for Federal Aviation Administration certification as a horizontal launch spaceport facility. The subsequent designation for Spaceport Colorado will support new opportunities for commercial space activities, research, and development, including development of a new aerospace and technology park.
Along with major DoD, NASA, and commercial activities, Colorado is the U.S. center for military space. The state's four military commands—the primary customers for space-based research, development, acquisition, and operations—ensure industry growth.
The region's universities and research centers are leading the charge to educate the next generation of aerospace workers. The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU Boulder is the most experienced university-based center in the world for all aspects of spacecraft operations and producing world-class science data products. The Metropolitan State University of Denver plans to build a new 143,000 square foot Aerospace Engineering Science building to expand opportunities for more than 2,000 students studying aerospace-related curriculum.
And there's support and advocacy for space through the Colorado Space Coalition, a group of stakeholders in Colorado's space industry whose volunteer efforts promote the industry regionally and nationally.
Here, you'll be part of a high-powered, established aerospace industry in a location that also happens to be a great place to live. In an atmosphere like this, it's no wonder that aerospace companies thrive and prosper at 5,280 feet.