Reaching Space from Boulder
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Aerospace in Boulder
The aerospace industry is deeply rooted in Boulder, dating back to the formation of Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation here in 1956. Ball Aerospace serves as an important anchor, serving civil, commercial, and military markets. Over the years, Ball Aerospace has been joined by a number of other aerospace companies with a significant presence in Boulder, including:
- Lockheed Martin
- Northrop Grumman
- Special Aerospace Services
- Blue Canyon Technologies
Today, Boulder has a 12 times the national average of aerospace presence supporting approximately 5800 professionals at 44 companies.
* Source: Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, 2019
Advantages for Aerospace
Boulder offers many local advantages that make it a top location for aerospace, including:
The ability to recruit and retain highly-educated talent.
The Boulder MSA has the most highly educated population in the nation with 63% of residents age 25+ having completed a bachelor's degree or higher (US average 31.2%), and Colorado is the second-most highly educated state in the nation.
Proximity to the University of Colorado Boulder.
CU-Boulder’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences program ranks among the top 15 in the nation and receives more NASA funding than any other public university in the United States.
Proximity to federally funded laboratories doing research in aerospace.
Several of Boulder’s federally funded laboratories are engaged in research directly tied to aerospace, include CASA, LASP, NCA, NIST and NOAA.
Strong entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem.
Boulder ranks as one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the United States with talented individuals driving innovation in all industries, including aerospace.
Access to support and service companies in Boulder.
Aerospace partners within the Boulder community support the advancement of the industry. Both the Colorado Nanotechnology Alliance and Colorado Photonics Industry Association are also headquartered in Boulder.
Aerospace in Metro Denver
The nine-county Metro Denver region ranks first in private sector aerospace employment out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, with 19,810 workers. Colorado ranks as the third-largest space economy in the United States in 2013, behind California and Florida.
Additionally, with major U.S. Department of Defense, 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 Metro Denver region also has a strong cluster of companies involved in geospatial technologies, remote sensing, imaging, and related industries.
Many of the nation’s major aerospace contractors base important operations in Colorado, including:
- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
- The Boeing Company
- ITT Exelis
- Lockheed Martin
- Northrop Grumman
- Sierra Nevada Corporation
- Digital Globe in Longmont / Westminster
- Sierra Nevada Corporation in Louisville
- United Launch Alliance
In April 2012, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB 35 into law at the National Space Symposium, limiting liability for companies that would operate space flights in Colorado.
University of Colorado Boulder
Through its nationally recognized Aerospace Engineering Sciences program, the University of Colorado Boulder receives more NASA funding than any other public university in the United States. The vibrant community of engineers and scientists tackle challenges in aerospace technology and science, partnering with private industry and focusing on:
- Aerospace Engineering Systems
- Astrodynamics & Satellite Navigation Systems
- Remote Sensing, Earth & Space Sciences
CU Aerospace Ventures is a collaboration among aerospace-related departments, institutes, centers, and industry partners to create knowledge and develop new technologies to observe, measure and better understand Earth and space. CU AeroSpace Ventures focuses on:
- Unmanned and autonomous aircraft
- Small satellites
- Earth and space sensors