The future of spaceflight
Alumnus Jeff Kloska takes the reins of the Colorado Air and Space Port and sets sights on the next generation of aerospace travel.
Jeff Kloska’s career path looks a lot like the trajectory of a jet: gaining momentum down the runway, then lifting off the earth and climbing confidently into an azure sky.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2007, Kloska moved to Texas, landing a job as an airport-operations specialist, then earning a promotion to senior specialist 13 months later. Three years later, he was named director of Fort Worth’s Meacham International Airport.
In January, he returned to Colorado after being tapped as the new director of the Colorado Air and Space Port (formerly Front Range Airport) in Adams County, which has been dubbed the U.S. hub for commercial space transportation, research and development. This is rarefied air in the field of aviation management.
But Kloska has remained grounded and humble despite his meteoric rise.
“So let’s make things perfectly clear: I had no idea that my career would take me to the level of space-port director,” he said. “I had my sights set on airport director as the pinnacle. I feel amazingly blessed to have been selected for my current role and truly honored to be trusted with this position. It’s been quite a journey.”
Kloska’s interest in aviation started early, when he was a child growing up near Morrison.
“My dad flew for business a lot, and I remember going to the old Stapleton Airport to meet him at the gate when he’d fly back into town,” Kloska said. “He also took me to a road near a runway to watch planes take off and land.”
Even when Kloska was at home, aviation remained a theme. “I’d watch my older brother operate the original Microsoft flight simulator,” he said.
More than anything, his time at MSU Denver solidified his career.
“The Aviation Management program got me to where I am today through its course structure and various preparation activities,” he said. “I’ll also add that the student chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives was instrumental. It allowed me to grow my network and contacts from the earliest point in my career.”
Kloska will rely on that education and those contacts as he leads the Colorado Air and Space Port’s (CASP) strategic direction.
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He described CASP as “quite unique” and said it includes a space-launch license for propulsion technology that’s in development.
“Aircraft currently in the research-and-development phase will take off like a normal plane under jet power,” Kloska said, “and then will be able to switch over to a new propulsion system that uses the existing jet-engine system with modifications.”
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper first requested that the federal government designate Colorado as a space-port state in 2011. That year, the State of Colorado applied to the Federal Aviation Administration to certify CASP as a space port.
The application was approved in August 2018, making CASP the nation’s 11th facility of its kind and paving the way for Colorado to further cement its status as a hub for space-related missions and business ventures.
Kloska added that CASP will continue to handle general-aviation aircraft but has its sights set on the future and the coming age of reusable spaceplanes.
“We’ll be working to develop an aerospace ecosystem based on CASP’s new master plan,” he said, “which includes routine launches of next-generation space vehicles that can carry satellites and tourists into suborbital space.”