Springs growing leader in aerospace tech

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Colorado Springs is building a reputation as a leader in the Global Positioning Satellite marketplace.

Not only is the city home to the missile defense and satellite control systems headquartered at Schriever Air Force and to Air Force Space Command’s headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, it is supported by emerging private sector GPS companies as well.

That growing focus was noted recently by ClearanceJobs.com, when Colorado Springs was included among the top 10 Defense Job cities – due in large part to a concentration of private sector companies that surround the area’s military aerospace industry.

While national defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, ITT and Northrop Grumman are working to fill any potential void in the national GPS constellation, local companies also are involved.

Braxton Technologies, for example, made headlines last fall when it teamed with ITT to win a $1.6 billion dollar contract from NASA for work at the Goddard Space Center.  The company also has been asked to partner with Assurance Technology Corp. to complete a two-year $29 million Space Missile System Center contract.

Braxton President and CEO Frank Backes said the company was one of 14 firms invited to Schriever during 2001 to compete in a launch anomaly resolution and disposition operation “flyoff” sanctioned by the Space Missile System Center. The assignment was to design a launch system capable of getting a rocket into space and then delivering an operational satellite to the proper orbit.

“We were the only company able to deliver 100 percent,” he said. 

The strong showing positioned Braxton, which has fewer than 100 employees, as a partner for larger companies, and Backes said he expects the Braxton to receive more work as a behind-the-scenes command and control expert.

While Braxton, which is responsible for sending and receiving ground-to-space or satellite-to-satellite signals, faces plenty of competition from names like Raytheon, Lockheed and Boeing, Backes said his company is focused on developing more partnerships and taking advantage of more opportunities.

And he also isn’t worried about a GPS brownout.

“The U.S. system is the gold standard throughout the world,” Backes said. “Besides, everything that moves today depends on GPS.  We’re now working on developing an even stronger signal.  In the meantime, government funding is almost assured – it’s a high priority. In our history, we’ve never had a brownout – and other than rumors and cocktail conversation – there’s no likelihood it will ever happen.”