Aerospace & Defense

A mile closer to space

Aerospace & defense

Cluster overview

For decades Colorado’s aerospace and defense cluster has flourished making it a key driver of our local and state economies. A confluence of attributes including our highly educated tech workforce, significant military presence, and world class educational and research institutions have created a thriving ecosystem for aerospace and defense in the public and private sectors. You’ve likely heard the saying, “Colorado is a mile closer to space.” It’s true both because of our mile-high elevation but also because hundreds of aerospace and defense companies in the state push the boundaries of technology and prioritize research and development to keep us on the cutting-edge. From space exploration to commercial and military space vehicles to cybersecurity, Colorado companies and their public counterparts have made the state a destination for industry leaders. We have five military commands and three Air Force bases, including Buckley Air Force base in Aurora. All are focused on space-based missions. Major U.S. Department of Defense facilities, NASA, and top research facilities call Colorado home. And we now have one of only 11 space ports in the United States located in Adams County.

Top in the U.S.

Colorado has the 2nd largest aerospace economy in the United States with nearly 300 aerospace companies

Job growth

Talent and employment

Colorado’s highly educated workforce boasts some incredible talent that feeds our aerospace and defense cluster. More than 30,000 people are employed by Colorado’s nearly 300 aerospace companies and the state ranks first for private aerospace jobs per capita in the United States. The cluster has seen significant job growth including five consecutive years of growth outpacing the nation by nearly 10%. Employment grew 7.2% between 2018 and 2019 alone.


Private and military workers in the aerospace cluster in Colorado



Average industry wage in Colorado



5-year employment growth In Colorado 2014-2019



Total direct and indirect employment in Colorado


Top in the U.S.

Colorado ranks #1 for our concentration in private-sector aerospace employment, five times the national average

Employment by county

A third of Colorado’s aerospace employment is concentrated in Adams and Arapahoe Counties.

Prime contractors

Top employers in Aurora

With Buckley Space Force Base located in Arapahoe County and Colorado Air and Space Port located in Adams County, we have attracted world-class aerospace and defense employers to our community. The Boeing Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Raytheon Intelligence and Space call Aurora home and employ thousands of people.

Future is space

Catalyzing innovation at Colorado Air and Space Port

When Colorado Air and Space Port (CASP) received its license in 2018, we proved once again that the state is an aerospace powerhouse capable of transforming the industry. This horizontal launch facility will establish Colorado as a major North American commercial space hub. This regional catalyst has attracted companies from around the world including Reaction Engines and New Frontier Aerospace and is driving the industry forward to commercial space transportation and valuable related technology for both the public and private sectors.
Future is space

Colorado was 4th in NASA prime contract awards in 2018 with $1.4 billion – nearly 10% of the total awards in the country