Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CU-Boulder, SpaceDev launch space nonprofit

— The University of Colorado and SpaceDev Inc., which has a 130-person site in Louisville, on Monday announced the formation of a nonprofit organization to further entrepreneurship and work force development in the space industry.

With initial funding of more than $1 million, eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship is designed to be multi-faceted in reach — serving as an incubator for startup aerospace businesses, funding new technology development on the university level and providing grants to high school graduates and community college students as a way to spur job growth.

It’s “an organization that would help people who were interested in starting space companies overcome the obstacles they had,” such as lack of infrastructure and equipment to access to funding, said Diane Dimeff, director of the organization.

ESpace’s primary funding came from the Metro Denver Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Develop initiative (WIRED), the Colorado Office of Economic Development, the University of Colorado, SpaceDev and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The five startups expected to participate in the program will each receive $20,000 grants and have access to some of the office and technical space at SpaceDev’s facility in Louisville. SpaceDev was acquired last year by electronic systems company Sierra Nevada Corp.

ESpace also will give a $90,000 grant to CU’s aerospace engineering sciences department to fund an eSpace Venture Design program. The initial round of eSpace-funded technologies will include an experiment to develop nanosatellites to improve the prediction of solar storms and their effects on Earth; a “mini jet engine” for unmanned aerial vehicles; and an unmanned aerial system to measure micro-weather effects of storms and wildfires, officials said.

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