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Sierra Nevada Systems, SpaceX to help Denver-Boulder area become Silicon Valley of space?

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These days, as the government slashes NASA's budget and entrepreneurs start making inroads towards the heavens, the space race is increasingly becoming a private-sector enterprise. The development could bode well for the Front Range. Indeed, the Denver-Boulder area may just be perfectly positioned to become the Silicon Valley of the galaxy.

Take Sierra Nevada Space Systems. The longtime defense systems electronic firm based outside of Denver has lately been making inroads into the space industry, and last year won $20 million from NASA for its development of Dream Chaser, a new breed of] space plane. Sierra Nevada -- not to be confused with the beer company -- was recently spotlighted by the New York Times as the biggest success stories in the government's recent decision to scrap its next generation of space shuttles and instead look to commercial operations to pick up the slack.

Among the other significant winners is SpaceX, a headline-grabbing space start-up that includes on its board of directors Kimbal Musk, the Boulder-based tech entrepreneur and owner of The Kitchen.

Need more proof that the Front Range has the right stuff? There's also the eSpace Center for Space Entrepreneurship, a Boulder-based business incubator founded by Sierra Nevada Space Systems and the University of Colorado -- itself a big player in space research -- that aims to help get new space innovators off the ground. And as we know from the likes of TechStars and Next Big Sound, Boulder seems to have the magic touch when it comes to incubators.

All in all, it's quite the line-up. It seems like all we're missing around here is a launch pad. Think some of those soccer fields at Dick's Sporting Goods Park could do double duty?

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