From both a technological and community perspective, Braxton Technologies is key to the local aerospace scene. Braxton is not only a provider of hardware and software components that are necessary for satellite ground system implementation; it is also an essential stimulator of growth of the aerospace industry in southern Colorado.
Tyler Goudie, Braxton Lead Sales Engineer, explains Braxton’s technological niche:
“Our company is involved with everything necessary to fly a satellite: scheduling, command and control, simulation design, flight dynamics. We have been exclusively focused on those aspects and are one of the only players in the commercial market that provide these services.”
Beyond providing these commercial products, Braxton aims to spur the growth of its local aerospace community. Frank Backes, Braxton CEO, notes:
“Our fundamental business goal is to make Colorado Springs a technology hub. We acquire companies [through our Braxton Science & Technology Group] and move their headquarters to Colorado Springs. Currently, we’ve acquired two companies and started two others, all based in Colorado Springs. In addition to the corporate acquisitions, we’ve revitalized five downtown Colorado Springs properties into which we plan to move our partners.”
Indeed, Frank Backes’ original involvement in aerospace stemmed from the burgeoning nature of the industry, as he explains:
“The driver for me to join aerospace [in 1985] was my desire to work in a new industry that was growing. At the time, I was in nuclear defense work and our studies led us to believe that space was going to be a critical asset to the nation. Furthermore, we determined that Colorado Springs [with institutions like NORAD and Peterson Air Force Base] was going to become a headquarters of that field.”
In 2005, Backes was brought on by the founders of Braxton Technologies to prepare the company to be sold to the O’Neil Group Company. With the completion of this transaction in 2008, Braxton Technologies was relocated from Pleasanton, California to Colorado Springs, initiating its involvement in that region.
On the local front, Braxton supplements its economic involvement with public engagement, sponsoring events such as the Colorado Space Business Roundtable (CSBR) and the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. Statewide, Braxton partners extensively with local aerospace primes, including Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
Despite its intensive investment in Colorado Springs, Braxton fosters close ties with the Boulder community, enabled by its acquisition of the Boulder-based company Net-Centric Design Professionals (NDP). Backes explains:
“We acquired NDP two years ago. It provides us with an ideal platform to engage the Boulder aerospace community, specifically CU-Boulder. CU is the leading research university in this region, and we needed to have that connection to exchange ideas and expertise.”
As Backes notes, the relationship between CU and Braxton is “very broad”:
“Braxton is teaming with CU-Boulder to deliver space ground system capability for government, civilian, academic, and foreign space research programs. In addition to space-related programs, Braxton Science & Technology Group is working with CU-Boulder and LASP to advance both cybersecurity and Environmental Intelligence technologies.”
Notably, Braxton’s NDP Group partnered with CU on the Methane Detectors Challenge, an international initiative to test and validate the next-generation of commercially-viable methane monitoring devices. Winning the challenge, Braxton is working on creating a subsidiary company that will produce this product commercially.
Complimenting its research involvement, Braxton has supported CU-Boulder’s educational endeavors. Backes notes:
“Braxton teamed with the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research (CCAR) to provide software to teach an astrodynamics course in CU-Boulder’s AES department. The course was taught by Brad Cheetham. Braxton received valuable feedback on our product capabilities and usability from Brad and his students. This type of collaboration helps Braxton develop better products for the aerospace market.”
Braxton Technologies nurtures its various CU collaborations through Backes’ membership on the AES Department’s External Advisory Board and its participation in AeroSpace Ventures. Backes explains:
“The AeroSpace Ventures program at CU-Boulder provides an opportunity to collaborate with CU’s extensive resources and experience in research and development to advance our technologies and have access to the next generation of aerospace professionals. Through this program, Braxton continues to provide our products at no charge to CU space programs in an effort to receive feedback on our products and collaborate on upgrades and new product ideas.”
Looking to the future, Braxton Science & Technology Group is eagerly working to implement their Catalyst Campus for Technology, a community collaboration aimed at establishing an “Innovation District” in downtown Colorado Springs. Backes hopes that, “by partnering with industry, academia, and government organizations, Catalyst Campus will become a technology collaboration hub for Southern Colorado.”