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Adams County Is Shooting for the Moon

Aerospace and aviation top list of growing industries in this booming region just northeast of Denver.

By Val Hunt Beerbower on June 22, 2022

Advanced Space CAPSTONE model
Advanced Space

With access to a robust talent pipeline and overlapping technical industries, it’s no wonder some of Adams County’s fastest-growing companies have their sights set on the “final frontier.”

The aerospace and aviation sectors are quickly discovering the region is an ideal location. The aerospace industry in Adams County accounts for 5% of all jobs in that sector in Colorado – close to double what it was just five years ago.

One company has already launched its own space mission. Advanced Space partnered with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space Vehicles Directorate and the Spacecraft Technology Division to share data collected from cislunar space through the CAPSTONE mission.

CAPSTONE, or Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, is a pathfinder mission for NASA’s Artemis program using a small spacecraft, CubeSat. It will be one of the first to ever fly in the unique Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO).

Lunar Landing

The project not only will benefit mission design and navigation strategies for the defense sector, but this technology can have a positive impact for future commercialization efforts, as well.

“We will be demonstrating technologies on our mission to the moon, which will serve as the foundation for how humanity explores and develops space in the future,” said Bradley Cheetham, CEO of Advanced Space. “This demonstration will result in accelerated adoption of new products and services to support commercial, civil and national security customers.”

Another company, Maxar Technologies, has reserved a window with SpaceX this summer to launch the first two WorldView Legion satellites. The six WorldView Legion satellites will fly in both polar and mid-inclination orbits to provide higher resolution data, which is extremely valuable to customers here on Earth.

“We continue to execute against our plan to complete the WorldView Legion program to the highest possible standard of quality,” says Chris Johnson, a Maxar senior vice president. “I am proud of the team’s progress this year as we make WorldView Legion’s game-changing capabilities a reality for our government and commercial customers in 2022.”

Bradley Cheetham, CEO of Advanced Space in Adams County, CO
Advanced Space

“Adams County has been supportive and forward thinking in terms of the aerospace industry. The county continues to find ways to improve transportation, support small businesses and enhance the lifestyle with restaurants and housing that are attractive to support our workforce.”

Bradley Cheetham, Advanced Space

Launch Pad

Don’t have your own launch site? Startups can now access a space port to further their research and development initiatives. The Colorado Air and Space Port (CASP) is one of 13 Federal Aviation Administration-licensed spaceports currently operating in the U.S. and is a significant step forward for Colorado’s continued commitment and growth in commercial space research, development and transportation.

Licensed as a horizontal launch facility in 2018, CASP provides all companies, from the local Colorado aerospace firm to national and international innovators, a location to ideate, develop and test future commercial space technology.

A Full-Service Spaceport

The spaceport still operates as a full aviation facility, serving thousands of general aviation and corporate flights a year, as well as specialized air cargo operations.

“CASP is focused on creating an aerospace technology incubator with a broad range of activities, including research and development, testing and evaluation, manufacturing, crew training, scientific research, suborbital flight and point-to-point travel,” says Ryan Nalty, deputy director of community and economic development for Adams County. For example, CASP serves British aerospace firm Reaction Engines while it tests its spaceplane concept.

“CASP’s location in Adams County offers a unique combination of the abundant surrounding land and convenient access to the Denver metro region and Denver International Airport and the state’s sizable aerospace industry, research universities and talented aerospace workforce,” Nalty says.

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