February 25, 2009

Center Encourages Aerospace Entrepreneurs

On February 23, 2009, CNN posted an article and video (below) about a program located in Louisville, Colorado that will serve as a center for the development of aerospace entrepreneurs (see "Center encourages aerospace entrepreneurs"). eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship is a not-for-profit partnership between Poway, California-based SpaceDev, Inc., "an entrepreneurial space systems company that develops high performance, innovative components and systems that are changing how we get to, explore, and use space," according to its website, and the University of Colorado. SpaceDev is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sparks, Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation.

eSpace's mission is to:
  • Help aerospace entrepreneurs start new companies by providing them with an environment that maximizes the probability of business success;
  • Develop commercial applications from the innovative technologies created within these companies; and
  • Collaborate with industry and academia to provide life-changing career opportunities for high school, community college, and university graduates.

Launched in last month, eSpace will provide a venue to test new innovations and meet NASA specifications. Jim Spellman's article says, "In a cavernous testing facility called the 'Incubator,' specialized equipment recreates the unique conditions of a journey into space -- from platforms that mimic the violent shaking at liftoff to chambers that replicate space's bitter cold and complete vacuum."

Mr. Spellman explains that eSpace's executive director, Scott Tibbitts, "believes that in the near future, NASA's programs will be supplemented more often by entrepreneurial space ventures. He thinks eSpace can help these companies work toward making space exploration more affordable and accessible to private citizens."

Diane Dimell, director of eSpace, says "'Our goal is to help small aerospace companies to get off the ground.'" eSpace will provide entrepreneurs the opportunity "'to commercialize their technology and to help develop the work force that will fuel their growth.'"

In addition to the eSpace Incubator, eSpace Venture Design is a collaborative program between eSpace and the University of Colorado Aerospace Engineering Sciences department that is funded in part by the Metro Denver WIRED Initiative. eSpace provides a total of $90,000 in grants to 3-5 graduate level design projects each with a two-part objective:

  1. To provide an extraordinary hands-on learning experience for students by developing an aerospace technology, in the laboratory, with an eye towards developing products with commercial potential; and
  2. To use the design project to create a commercially viable technology, with the business elements of the technology (business plan, developing market need, developing capabilities to meet that need) forwarded concurrently with the design project. The ultimate objective being to transition the project to the eSpace incubator.

eSpace Venture Design program is supporting the following programs in 2009: Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CCSWE), Mini Jet Engine for UAV's, and SmartSondes for Atmospheric Testing.

Another component of eSpace is their Straight to Space (S2S) program, which aims to develop opportunities for individuals interested and capable of contributing to the aerospace industry, but not currently on a track for a four-year college degree.

1 comment:

  1. Aaron, we appreciate you picking up on this. There are some really interesting things going on in space technology right now that tie to sustainability. The nature of the biz is that these companies tend to be "heads down" doing what they know, and developing their aerospace business, but some really innovative technologies are being created that can spin-out. "Green" propulsion technologies, high efficiency solar cells, composite tanks for storing high pressure gases and cryogens. espace is helping these companies develop space business, but at the same time we make connections for commercialization for terrestrial applications.