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406 Aerospace

The city of Bozeman, Montana is known for its proximity to world-class skiing and Yellowstone National Park.  But this town in southwest Montana is also home to a robust high-tech business scene; thanks in large part to the influence of state-of-the-art research facilities at Montana State University (MSU), and world-class talent moving here for the stellar quality of life.  Advanced satellite technology company 406 Aerospace is a great example of an innovative Montana company benefiting from both.

406 Aerospace’s co-founder Ehson Mosleh grew up in Maryland, but chose to attend college at MSU 11 years ago due to Bozeman’s proximity to great outdoor recreation and the opportunity to work as a researcher in the Space Science and Engineering Laboratory (SSEL) housed in the Physics Department.  Ehson’s early years at SSEL allowed him to gain valuable experience working on high profile satellite projects for organizations like the National Science Foundation.

Ehson appreciated being able to work with existing satellite technology, but he also saw a need for better small satellites; specifically CubeSats, a standard size small satellite with broad applicability in NASA and Department of Defense goals.  In 2012 he partnered with SSEL’s Director, Dr. David Klumpar to form 406 Aerospace, in order to advance CubeSat technology from the heart of Big Sky Country.  Ehson admits people in his field are often surprised to find out he’s running such a cutting-edge business from Montana:

“I think people are amazed we’re doing this in Bozeman…but the SSEL lab allows us to draw on the latest advances in satellite technology and to collaborate with incredibly talented researchers from around the world.”

In 2012, 406 Aerospace accepted their first contract working as a sub-contractor for industry powerhouse Tvvak Nano-Satellite Systems, and began working on the C-POD Mission through NASA.  The mission is for two satellites to find and dock to each other in space - a capability that has broad reaching applications such as building autonomous building blocks in space, satellite inspections, and more effectively dealing with space debris (the satellites attach to debris and pull it into a level of the atmosphere where it burns up). The work they’re doing is no small feat: C-POD is currently the most technically ambitious CubeSat project in the world to date.

“I think people are amazed we’re doing this in Bozeman…but the SSEL lab allows us to draw on the latest advances in satellite technology and to collaborate with incredibly talented researchers from around the world.”
- Ehson Mosleh , Co-founder 406 Aerospace

406 Aerospace has now grown to five employees (four of which are MSU grads), and continues to hire interns from the Physics program at MSU.  For the past few years, Ehson and his team have financially supported research and development efforts through MSU’s Office of Sponsored Programs, the entity responsible for helping MSU faculty identity and secure research funding.  For Ehson, that’s a way of expressing his gratitude for the advantages he and his colleagues have had working with MSU:

“We wouldn’t be where we are without key MSU faculty like Dr. Becky Mahurin in the Technology Transfer Office, or without facilities like SSEL…we want to make sure we continue to give back to our origins.”

406 Aerospace is currently looking at partnering with local optics companies to continue advancing satellite technology, and Ehson notes that the emerging photonics and bioscience industries have been very helpful resources for his company, and are opening new doors for collaboration in space research. But, Montana’s quality of life is still one of the top reasons this incredibly talented entrepreneur who could undoubtedly be leading a company on either coast chooses to run his global business from Bozeman:

“Living in Bozeman allows me to be in close proximity to the things I really enjoy, like hiking and skiing. That was a big part of my initial decision to move here, and a big factor in choosing to start a company here.  Being able to get out and play makes my team happy - and that makes us more productive as a whole.”  

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Categories: Innovative Company Profiles, OpticsNumber of views: 2192

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