Boulder-based Blue Canyon Technologies sees rapid growth
Aerospace company credits niche small satellite building
BLUE CANYON TECHNOLOGIES | Product: Aerospace + Aircraft | Made in: Boulder
Blue Canyon grew from 30 employees in early 2017 to about 125 today.
The driver? The adoption of small satellites and constellations over the larger legacy spacecraft launched in much smaller quantities.
President and CEO George Stafford co-founded the company in 2008 and went after SBIR contracts. One of the first such projects involved developing a control system for small satellites for the U.S. Air Force.
The market matured as Blue Canyon honed the system. Four years of R&D later, the company “got some real traction” in 2012, Stafford says. Its first product, the XACT Attitude Control System, remains the flagship today.
The company has grown with the rapidly emerging market for small satellites. “For an aerospace company, we are very vertically integrated,” Stafford says. It works with some outside machine shops, but the systems are largely manufactured in-house. Blue Canyon also manufactures complete spacecraft for commercial and government clients.
With the growth, Blue Canyon quickly filled the 42,000 square feet in two buildings it moved into in 2017, and is expanding by 12,000 feet in 2019 as the company makes another 50 to 60 new hires. “Next year, we’ve got a building coming online that will add another 40,000 [square feet],” Stafford says. “It’s just an open field right now.”
More space will allow for more manufacturing capacity – and the company needs it. Small satellite launches will jump from 100 to 200 a year to as many as 1,000 a year in the near future, Stafford projects, catalyzed by complementary rocket technology. “Now you have rockets coming online from Virgin Galactic, Rocket Lab and Firefly that are dedicated to [small satellite launches],” he says. “That will really open up the market.”