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Colorado's Aerospace Industry At The Center Of Space Exploration

Colorado Springs Hosting 29th National Space Symposium

Aerospace leaders from across the nation and around the world are in Colorado Springs this week at the 29th National Space Symposium to discuss the future of space. This collaboration is most apparent in Colorado, which claims "first in the nation" status for its concentration of private aerospace employees and which has seen a remarkable 19.3 percent increase in its aerospace economy over the last decade.

Since last year, ULA, the preferred company to send government satellites into space, has worked with NASA to update the design of its Atlas V rocket in order to carry humans into space. Already, the Atlas V is scheduled to launch Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser (pictured in artist's rendering), an orbital space vehicle that is one of three remaining competitors in NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Program. Just this year, SNC, which has been working closely with the University of Colorado at Boulder, announced a partnership with Lockheed Martin Space Systems to work with SNC on NASA's Certification Products Contract and to manufacture the next Dream Chaser composite structure. SNC also has several other Colorado organizations who have participated in this program. "The Dream Chaser program is a major element of our Colorado operation and our success has been driven by the significant help we have received from our teammates," said Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems. "We believe that creating innovative partnerships between industry, government, and universities is the way that future space advances will be made."

Not only is Lockheed Martin working with SNC, but the company is also 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. ULA will launch the Orion flight test in the fall 2014 abroad its Delta IV rocket. "These types of partnerships and programs are critical to ensuring the successes of the nation's future missions to space," Clark said.

Even as the national government works to remedy its budget deficit, Colorado state officials are working with the FAA to designate a spaceport in the state, which will expand its competitiveness by developing new opportunities in commercial space transportation, research, and development. Colorado has also been extremely proactive in pursuing an FAA-approved unmanned aircraft systems test site.

The symposium wraps up Thursday.

FMI: www.nationalspacesymposium.org, www.spacecolorado.org

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