02/07/2011 04:27 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Space Entrepreneurs Wanted

eSpace, the Boulder business incubator for space entrepreneurs, is looking for a half dozen new companies to launch into Colorado's growing space industry.

Part of the Center for Space Entrepreneurship, the incubator was started in 2009 by the University of Colorado at Boulder and Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Space Systems Group in Louisville. This week, it opened its third round of recruiting for prospective entrants to the space business.

The program provides money, physical space and business mentoring to successful applicants. Diane Dimeff, executive director, said three nascent companies have already applied, and she expects up to two dozen more to try. To apply, go here. The center plans to incubate six successful applicants.

eSpace has six young companies currently enrolled; the firms are developing products from new spacecraft propulsion systems to moon landers, like one designed by Next Giant Leap, a contender for the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million contest to maneuver and land a small spacecraft on the moon and relay data back to Earth.

Those may seem like lofty ambitions, but just in its first 18 months, eSpace has already graduated two firms to the open market: Net.Centric Design Professionals, which sets up ground-to-space computer networks; and Zybek Advanced Products, a manufacturer of synthetic moon rock that also has developed a milling system able to melt nearly any material at temperatures up to 20,000 degrees centigrade.

Dimeff has a $1.4 million budget for the next 18 months and, naturally, is looking for more earthbound donors and investors. The center's goal is to grow a space-industry workforce in Colorado that literally reaches for the stars.