An unnamed Japanese aerospace company is considering several counties in the Denver metro area, including Broomfield County, for the home of its United States headquarters.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission unanimously approved a $1.13-million tax incentive package Thursday in an effort to lure the firm to the state.
It is the commission’s practice not to identify companies the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is recruiting until incentives are accepted. That acceptance process often takes six month to a year.
The aerospace firm, called “Project Cosmic Sphere” by state economic development officials, has “developed a relationship with NASA to develop a lunar lander capable of delivering payloads to the Moon,” according to OEDIT documents.
As part of this NASA relationship, the firm must establish a foothold in the U.S. and is planning a capital investment of $40 million over the next five years to do so.
Within the Denver metro area, “Project Cosmic Sphere” is considering Broomfield, Jefferson, Denver and Douglas counties. Outside of the state, the firm is looking at sites in Texas and Florida.
In exchange for the tax incentives, the firm has pledged to create 48 new management, engineering, finance, government affairs, sales and marketing, and research and development jobs with an average annual salary of $118,333.
While state officials won’t yet reveal the identity of “Project Cosmic Sphere,” there’s significant reason to think the firm could be Tokyo-based ispace Inc. Here’s why:
- ODEDIT documents show that “Project Cosmic Sphere” is involved with the development of a lunar lander capable of delivering things to the Moon. According to ispace’s website, the firm is building “small, robotic lunar landers and lunar rovers (that) are designed to provide low-cost, high-frequency transportation of customer payloads to the Moon.”
- OEDIT deputy director Michelle Hadwiger said the firm is a participant in “a very public prize competition to spur public companies to develop cost-efficient technologies to bring robotic spacecraft to the surface of the moon.” ispace is behind Team Hakuto, one of five finalists in Google’s $30-million Lunar XPRIZE competition.
- Hadwiger also said “Project Cosmic Sphere” recently raised quite a bit of capital and ispace closed a $28-million Series B in August, according to media reports.
- A “Project Cosmic Sphere” representative spoke briefly during the virtual EDC meeting Thursday and his video conferencing platform identified him only as Kyle. ispace’s U.S. CEO is Kyle Acierno, and his LinkedIn profile picture looks very much like the Kyle who participated in Thursday’s meeting.
- Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. aerospace and aviation director Vicky Lea said one of the company’s missions is developing ways to “explore off-world resources — such as extracting water from the Moon — that could then be used to support living on the Moon.” By 2023, ispace’s “rovers will not simply be mobile, but they will also be equipped with tools, such as drills and manipulators, to meet the various needs of surface exploration and to scout potential candidates for a future manned moon base,” according to the company’s website.
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