Press Release

Colorado Governor to sign bill that will further expand the state’s competitiveness in the aerospace industry

By SpaceRef Editor
April 18, 2012
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New law demonstrates that the Mile High State is emerging well past its sea-level competitors as a center of space innovation and job growth

Tomorrow, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign into law a bill that will position Colorado to capitalize on significant new opportunities in commercial space transportation.

Gov. Hickenlooper will sign Senate Bill 35 during an industry luncheon on Thursday, April 19 at the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the premier gathering of the global space community. The law limits liability for companies that would operate space flights from the proposed Spaceport Colorado.

“Commercial space offers a wealth of opportunities and Colorado intends to be at the forefront of the industry,” said Hickenlooper. “The signing of this bill represents our collective next step as a state to testing the limits of space.”

While the bill is a big step for Colorado, the state has already made giant leaps to expand its aerospace economy with private sector leaders pushing forward on commercial development in space exploration.

In fact, in the past year, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation’s (Metro Denver EDC) annual Industry Cluster Study, Colorado leapt forward to rank as the number two aerospace state for private sector employment, overtaking Florida.

“While other states have experienced job losses in recent years, our aerospace industry remains one of the strongest pillars of the Colorado and U.S. economy,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC. “Not only does Colorado rank first in the United States for its high concentration of private aerospace jobs, but since 2006, aerospace employment in Colorado has grown 6.9 percent.” In addition to Colorado’s efforts to pursue spaceport status, statewide industry stakeholders are also actively working to expand Colorado’s reach in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) research and development. With its variety of airspace, environmental conditions, and terrain, Colorado provides an ideal location for federal, state, and private UAS operations.

“It truly should come as no surprise that our state can deliver the innovation, expertise, and collaboration needed to support and grow the aerospace industry,” Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia explained. “Not only do we have the nation’s second most highly educated workforce, but Colorado’s research universities are at the forefront of space innovation and training the next generation of aerospace workers.”

Mile High Innovation

At the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and a mile closer to space at 5,280 feet, Colorado is home to a strong concentration of space-related military commands, eight major aerospace contractors, several federal laboratories and research centers, and more than 400 companies that develop unmanned spacecraft, instrumentation, remote sensing, ground control and navigation services, and launch vehicles for NASA, the Department of Defense and other agencies.

Colorado companies are leading the nation’s most notable NASA projects and aerospace contracts, including:

* Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, based in Jefferson County, is the prime contractor to NASA for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the nation’s first interplanetary spacecraft designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit on long-duration, deep space missions.

* NASA awarded Sierra Nevada Corporation, located in Louisville, an $80 million contract to continue developing Dream Chaser, a space transportation system to carry passengers and cargo into suborbital and orbital flights, including trips to the International Space Station.

* United Launch Alliance, headquartered in Centennial, recently received a $1.5 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force for nine rocket launches to be completed by June 2014. The company also received a $446 million NASA contract to launch the GOES-R and GOES-S climate-monitoring satellites in 2015 and 2017.

Several recent national reports and studies have pegged Colorado as having one of the nation’s strongest economies, and the state’s growth in aerospace is a major contributor. The Beacon Hill Institute ranked Colorado third-best among the 50 states in its latest State Competitiveness Report and the state is among the top six in overall job growth from February 2011 to February 2012. To learn more about Colorado’s space economy, visit the Colorado Space Coalition’s website at

Press Contact: Janet Fritz, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation 303.620.8039.

SpaceRef staff editor.