COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- This week, the world's leading aerospace innovators are gathered in Colorado Springs at the 31st Annual Space Symposium. Colorado companies will demonstrate how they are expanding new frontiers in space exploration, following an exciting kickoff today by United Launch Alliance (ULA) with the unveiling of the name and design of its Next Generation Launch System (NGLS).
"After inviting America to vote for the rocket's new name and receiving over a million votes, we are pleased to announce that the 'Vulcan' will be the next in a long line of pioneering spacecraft to be launched by Colorado's United Launch Alliance," said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of ULA.
Centennial, Colorado-based ULA has consistently delivered 100 percent mission success for 95 launches, and is currently operating at a tempo of roughly one launch per month. The new rocket will transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable and accessible. The NGLS brings together decades of experience on ULA's reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combining the best features of each to produce an all-new, American-made rocket that will enable mission success from low Earth orbit all the way to Pluto.
Among the national and international aerospace entities represented at the Space Symposium this week, Colorado companies lead the charge as innovative pioneers for the industry. Colorado employs more private-sector aerospace workers per capita than any other state in the nation, driving the third-largest aerospace economy in the United States; and supporting close to 163,000 space-related jobs and more than 400 companies engaged in the space industry.
"Colorado aerospace companies are at the forefront of space travel, exploration, and groundbreaking research," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. "Like the westward pioneering of our past, this highly collaborative Colorado aerospace industry contingent is paving the way into new chapters of discovery in the frontier of space."
Innovation Starts Here
Eight of the U.S.'s leading aerospace contractors are headquartered in Colorado, including Lockheed Martin Space Systems and United Launch Alliance (ULA), both of which were the key players in the highly successful December test launch of Orion, the first spacecraft designed to carry human explorers on deep space missions beyond the moon, to asteroids, and eventually Mars.
In addition to their major partnerships with NASA, Lockheed Martin Space Systems also recently opened its new commercial space headquarters in Jefferson County, adding up to 500 high-paying jobs for Colorado and expanding the state's commercial aerospace sector. Lockheed Martin is also currently assembling NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in Colorado, which will be the first U.S. mission sent to an asteroid to collect and return samples.
Colorado's pioneering role in aerospace spans beyond the United States and its federal missions, as this year's Space Symposium continues to garner attendance from more private- sector and international companies than ever before. Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, a leading global provider of high-resolution satellite imagery and geospatial solutions, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United Nations to collaborate with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in geospatial observation technologies and analytics.
Another global player with a large presence in Colorado is Sierra Nevada Corporation, which is working with the German Aerospace Center to study the feasibility of using its Dream Chaser spacecraft for crewed and uncrewed flights to low-Earth orbit for missions in microgravity science, satellite servicing and active debris removal.
Many of Colorado's small space companies are also actively engaged in the global aerospace market. For example, Littleton-based Oakman Aerospace has been working closely with RUAG Space in Switzerland through a cooperative research and development activity focused on rapid and responsive space missions, payloads, and components. It has also signed a Strategic MOU with QinetiQ Space in Belgium to sell and deliver small satellite based space systems and missions – and their related technologies – to government commercial and academic customers in the United States.
"Colorado is best positioned to help the U.S. become the global leader in the space exploration race, and not just because it's a mile closer to space," said Jay Lindell, Colorado's aerospace and defense industry champion. "We have a highly educated workforce, a government committed to fulfill the needs of the industry, and leading companies that appeal on a national level."
To learn more about Colorado's vibrant space economy, visit the Colorado Space Coalition's website at www.spacecolorado.org.
SOURCE Colorado Space Coalition