DENVER (CBS4) – It’s been 60 years since the first Earth satellite was launched into outer space. The Soviet Union sent Sputnik into orbit in 1957, triggering a “space race” with the United States. Now there’s a new out-of-this-world mission and Colorado is helping lead the way.

More than four decades have flown by since humans were launched into space for a mission to the moon. Private company SpaceX is planning to change that by sending two people into space next year.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I think this should be a really exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again,” said SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Reigniting space travel is also launching a new kind of space race — no longer between countries like in the Sputnik era — instead between private companies.

“They’re taking the ball from NASA, from government, which they’ve partnered with, and they’re going to go do big things,” said Phil Larson a former employee of SpaceX, and the assistant dean of University of Colorado’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Larson says privatizing space travel is good news for Colorado.

“New jobs, new industries, new technologies,” Larson said.

Larson says Colorado is one of the main aerospace capitals of the world with numerous companies. Even schools, like CU, have developed numerous designs for NASA.

Phil Larson (credit: CBS)

Phil Larson (credit: CBS)

“They’ve launched instruments in spacecraft to every planet in the solar system and beyond,” he said.

And with a new era of space exploration taking off, Colorado is on the leading edge, launching new opportunities for decades to come.

“It’s awesome to know that that’s happening right here, in Colorado, in the United States … and we’re helping lead the way in this new era in space. It’s not just governments anymore,” Larson said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

In another Colorado space connection, students at Metropolitan State University of Denver will soon be building satellites. The school recently partnered with York Space Systems to move its headquarters into Metro’s new aerospace and engineering sciences building this summer.


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