BlueHalo brings the space race to Albuquerque

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Jul. 21—ALBUQUERQUE — The final frontier starts in Albuquerque for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Mayor Tim Keller and newly merged national security and technology company BlueHalo.

They announced Monday in Albuquerque a more than fourfold expansion of the company's footprint in the city near the airport for BlueHalo's "space superiority" and "directed energy" divisions.

BlueHalo, a company focused on modern warfare, plans to start construction later this summer on a roughly 200,000-square-foot research, innovation and manufacturing complex at Gibson and Carlisle boulevards. The new campus, called MaxQ, will replace the 43,000-square-foot research and design facility BlueHalo now occupies in the Sandia Research Park off Eubank Boulevard.

BlueHalo is planning a $60 million capital investment into MaxQ. The project will get a boost from the state through a $2.25 million Local Economic Development Act grant and $250,000 in LEDA funding from the city of Albuquerque. BlueHalo also plans to apply for an Industrial Revenue Bond.

Arlington, Va.-based BlueHalo was created in October by combining several tech companies: Albuquerque-based Applied Technology Associates; Aegis Technologies and E Mergent RC Heli in Huntsville, Ala.; Base2 Engineering in Annapolis, Md.; Brilligent in Dayton, Ohio; Excivity in Chantilly, Va.; and Fortego in Columbia, Md.

Applied Technology Associates was established in 1975 in Albuquerque as a spinoff from the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, due west of the BlueHalo/ATA facility that ATA has occupied since 2001.

BlueHalo's focus in Albuquerque is space technology associated with communications, guidance navigation control and line-of-sight stability, said James Batt, chief growth officer.

"This will keep us at the cutting edge of space technology," U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, said in a video presentation.

The new MaxQ site will be the company's largest manufacturing facility, Batt said.

BlueHalo plans to move all 260 of its Albuquerque employees to MaxQ. Another 64 jobs are expected to be added at the new campus, and the company predicts a $3.2 billion economic impact in Albuquerque over the next 10 years, the New Mexico Economic Development Department said in a news release.

Construction on the first 200,000 square feet of the campus should be completed in 18 months, but future expansions are expected, Batt said.

Still buzzing from New Mexico hosting the first successful commercial human spaceflight July 11 with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, the governor sees New Mexico as an emerging space technology powerhouse.

"We are preparing for the final frontier," Lujan Grisham said Monday at the BlueHalo announcement. "No longer is New Mexico talking about nibbling around the edges."

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said his city is "committed to be the home for space technology. That is what Albuquerque is going to be known for in the decades ahead."