Colorado space industry needs new funding sources to boost economic development, study finds

DENVER - Governor John Hickenlooper will talk about investing in the space industry to promote economic development in Colorado on Tuesday.

Space is a vital part of the state's economy, according to a report by the Brookings Institute. It says that more than 66,000 people work in generally well-paid space-related jobs in Colorado, generating more than $8 billion in income.

That includes satellite technology, GPS mapping and even a proposal to convert land near Denver International Airport into a spaceport that will launch commercial space flights.

Lockheed Martin celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer, and the Phoenix Lander under development now at Lockheed's Waterton Canyon facility will be launching in 2016.

But the Brookings report finds a "disruptive change" approaching this high-paying sector -- a nearly 4-percent drop in space industry job growth over the past five years.

The report is due to be released at a Tuesday. It warns that the state has been too reliant on government contracts. Federal spending on space is dwindling and the report urges greater coordination to find new markets.

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