Apr 10, 2024 - Business

Space industry sees job growth as Colorado spotlights its prime role

Illustration of an astronaut wearing a necktie floating through space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The global space industry is seeing its fastest growth in ages, and Colorado is positioning itself to benefit.

State of play: The U.S. space workforce grew 4.8% in 2024 and saw 41 launches in the first two months of the year, an unrivaled pace, according to a new report from the Colorado-based Space Foundation, a four-decade-old industry nonprofit.

  • Moon landings reached their highest frequency since the early 1970s.

What we're watching: The sector now accounts for 222,300 jobs nationwide — a number that drew cheers at this week's Space Symposium, which drew thousands from across the globe to Colorado Springs.

  • The symposium "is really a significant area where deals are done and business is made, and highlights our leadership role in the space sector," said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who attended the event Tuesday along with New Zealand space minister Judith Collins.

By the numbers: Colorado's private aerospace industry jobs rank No. 1 per capita in the nation and continue to expand as an economic driver, as evidenced by the symposium.

Between the lines: The decreasing costs for launching into space are driving growth, particularly in the satellite industry.

  • "Space was once an activity for very few countries who could afford to develop these exquisite systems," Iain Boyd, an aerospace professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in the report. "Now commercial companies can field these systems rapidly and affordably.

Zoom in: The interest in Moon landings is another bright spot.

  • Golden-based startup Lunar Outpost and partner Lockheed Martin Space, located in Jefferson County, are finalists for a bid for a $4.6 billion project to build an automated vehicle for NASA's forthcoming exploration of the Moon.

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