State Fight: Colorado is conducting an international campaign in the space sector

The competition for attracting space companies is becoming global.

“Obviously we’re competing with our other states, but there’s even more competition for companies looking for a location in the United States,” said Vicki Lee, director of aviation and aerospace at Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

In recent years, Japan’s space sustainability company Astroscale, Kleos Space, a Luxembourg-based radio frequency monitoring company, and Norway’s ground station operator Kongsberg Satellite Services have opened offices in Colorado.

In addition, Orbit Fab, a startup for refueling satellites, announced plans in August to move to Denver from San Francisco.

“Silicon Valley is a great place to start,” said Orbit Fab CEO Daniel Faber. “There is capital and creativity.”

When it came time to expand, Orbit Fab chose Colorado largely because of its talents and proximity to potential customers and partners.

Colorado has also offered Orbit Fab tax breaks of up to $ 4.6 million based on a promise to create nearly 200 high-paying jobs.

“The talent here is a huge factor in the growth of the aerospace industry,” Lee said, noting such well-known educational institutions as the University of Colorado, Boulder and the Colorado Mining School. “We have the second most highly educated workforce in the country.”

Colorado’s 290 aerospace companies employed 33,460 people in 2020, according to the report “Colorado Aerospace: Home for the Smartest Life in the Galaxy.” The state is also strong in related fields: software, energy and advanced manufacturing, “which expands and deepens the talent pool,” Lee said.

For years, Colorado has been attracting companies looking for military space talent, thanks to the presence of U.S. space forces bases in Cheyenne Mountain, Shriver and Peterson, where the U.S. Space Command is now headquartered.

Supporting local industry is a community effort, Lee said, pointing to the participation of heads of government, industry leaders and scientists at the annual aerospace day in the state capital. Organized by Colorado Citizens for Space Exploration, the annual event is designed to help Colorado lawmakers recognize the importance of the state’s space economy.

Over the past five years, employment in the Colorado aerospace industry has grown by 30 percent. Now the state considers itself the highest concentration of private aerospace employment in the country.

“We live and breathe aerospace aerospace,” Leo said.

This article originally appeared in February 2022 of SpaceNews magazine.

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