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Students learn about space missions as the aerospace industry contributes to the growth of the economy

COLORADO SPRINGS — A group of Falcon Aerolab students visited the Challenger Learning Center to simulate a mission to Mars. Not only does the move help them pursue a career in STEM, but it also teaches them about one of the most influential and growing industries in the Colorado Springs economy: aerospace.

The aerospace industry is growing rapidly amid a new era of space exploration. The Pentagon has more than doubled its budget for space programs since 2005, according to a report by the Space Foundation.

The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce says the aerospace and defense industry accounts for 40% of our local economy and employs 111,000 people. That brings in Olympic City $7 billion annually.

Bruce Bookout is a program manager for a compound called Acusil at Peraton. With over three decades in the industry, he says the growth doesn’t surprise him at all.

“In my opinion, we’re doing more than almost any other state. They say ‘Houston is the best place for space operations,’ no, not compared to what Peterson and Schriever are doing,” Bookout said.

He says the growing industry has several benefits for the local economy.

“A good economy, for resources, to feed them, to house them. It’s also flowing into the school system because you’re not going to have a bunch of high-tech, well-paid people saying, ‘We want mediocre schools here,’ no, we want STEM schools, we want their kids to be professionally educated like her,” he continued.

The space industry is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2040.

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