Nevada-headquartered Sierra Nevada Corp. is developing the Dream Chaser Space System, a vehicle designed for commercial and cargo transportation to and from low-Earth orbit. The company, which has a location in Louisville (near Boulder), has won bids totaling more than $330 million as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew project to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
NASA recently awarded Massachusetts-based Raytheon Company a $1.7 billion contract to develop the Joint Polar Satellite System, which includes satellites and sensors that support civil weather and climate measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Raytheon has locations in Colorado Springs, Aurora and Elizabeth.
Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, which has multiple locations in Colorado, is currently developing the future Global Positioning System satellites for the Air Force. The new equipment is said to have 500 times the transmission power of the current GPS systems orbiting our planet. The first satellite launch is scheduled for next year.
Raytheon also won an $886 million contract from the Air Force to deliver the GPS Advanced Control Segment (OCX), scheduled to enter service in 2016. The system will provide command and control of new capabilities associated with the next-generation GPS III satellites, monitored and maintained in Colorado Springs.
Lockheed Martin is also the prime contractor for NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the country’s first interplanetary spacecraft designed to haul astronauts on long, deep-space missions. The company delivered the first Orion spacecraft to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in July 2012 and it is scheduled for test launch/flight by Centennial-based United Launch Alliance in fall 2014.
The United Launch Alliance launched the eighth Landsat mission for NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey in February using an Atlas V rocket. The mission’s Operational Land Imager, which processes images of the Earth in 16-day intervals, was developed by Boulder-based Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.
The United Launch Alliance also launched NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover) in 2011. The robotic explorer, which included parts and systems from both Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada, was taken to the Red Planet aboard the Alliance’s Atlas V rocket.
Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Launch Services division has been chosen to oversee the launch of DigitalGlobe Inc.’s WorldView-3 satellite, which Ball Aerospace and Colorado Springs-based ITT Exelis are constructing. Said to be the first multi-payload, super-spectral and high-resolution commercial satellite, it’s scheduled for launch in 2014.
Source: Colorado Space Coalition’s 2013-2014 Aerospace report.