NASA and Space Force contracts are bringing about change in downtown Upland.

The increased demand for space-focused products made by NearSpace Launch has resulted in a need for a larger area focused on manufacturing so that the company can fulfill government contracts, like the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The company announced Wednesday that it will move its operations, which includes the educational outreach arm of its efforts (NearSpace Education), to a centralized location at 79 Railroad Street in Upland.

“As we mature, we are making a commitment to long-term stability, so this move is a big step,” NearSpace Launch Chief Officer of Operations Matt Voss said. “We are ready to move out of the startup phase and into more of a scaling phase.”

The company received two “Phase 2” contracts recently, one with the U.S. Space Force and one with NASA, to build a constellation of satellites for the entities.

Voss said NearSpace Launch has always focused its mission on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational programs along with research and innovation projects in Upland and across the country. Eventually, the company created a new kind of radio system that before moving on to building small satellites, about the size of a loaf of bread, which caught the interest of other aerospace companies.

“We were more on the research side and now we are more on the manufacturing side,” Voss said. “We definitely want to keep researching and providing to the community innovative technologies, but we also want to manufacture. That’s the kind of stage we are getting into now.”

Voss said two-thirds of the building will be devoted to NearSpace Launch production and manufacturing, and one-third of the building will cater toward educational outreach through NearSpace Education.

“That’s one of the benefits of moving into this building. This location will help NearSpace Education by giving us a space to display information and work with students,” Voss said. “It will be a better place for a school bus to come and visit and be able to facilitate a larger crowd than our previous locations.”

Throughout the past few years, NearSpace Launch has held 500 balloon launches and done educational nonprofit work across the region and country. NearSpace Education launched last year as a standalone company to continue carrying out NearSpace Launch’s original mission. Voss said the change allows the company to remain organized and focused on its goals as the company expands.

“Before this, we had been working from different garages and different places here in town, a bunch of different locations,” Ross said. “We’re just excited to expand. We will keep using some of our other spaces but we are excited to move into this location and consolidate our efforts.”

The consolidation will help the company form a hub to innovate and educate, Voss says.

“We’ve also got people coming from Fort Wayne and Lafayette to do some of the production, so it will be nice to have a single hub for us all to meet up and have more of a manufacturing facility and more space to work with… We are looking to get more involved with Upland and be a part of it more as we grow. Upland’s been great so far,” he said. “The town has been great to facilitate this and work with us as we develop.”

Voss said the company is also looking toward collaborating with other companies in the area and region and show what Upland has to offer.

“We look forward to plugging in with the other businesses as well … We are working with some other businesses to come into Upland, so we are excited,” he said. “It’s a fun place to live, in Upland, and raise a family, and people want to invest here.”

The remodeled building is planned to open in early 2022.

The building was purchased from the Jay Ross and the Ross Family by TenBoom LLC, which is operated by Voss.

“On behalf of the whole Ross family, we are very excited about the purchase of our downtown buildings by TenBoom LLC and the opportunity it brings for downtown revitalization, and new business ventures,” Ross, who is the Upland Chamber of Commerce Treasurer, said. “We have been in business in downtown for many years representing many businesses, and we are grateful that the buildings will remain and not taken off the tax roll. It is reassuring that Matt Voss has the same vision for the future of Upland as we have.”
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