Mile High Roundup: Spaceships, SomaLogic Stays Silent, and SanDisk

Welcome to the Mile High Roundup, a look at some of the interesting things that have happened over the past two weeks in the tech scene in Boulder, Denver, and around Colorado.

In this edition, NASA tests out a Colorado-made spaceship, SomaLogic quietly raises $10 million, and SanDisk finishes its deal for Smart Storage Systems.

DREAM CHASER GETS A LIFT: The trip from the Front Range to the International Space Station got a little bit shorter yesterday for the Sierra Nevada Corp. and its Dream Chaser spacecraft.

The Dream Chaser is a seven-person space ship that SNC, a private company, is building in Colorado. It is competing against two other spacecraft being built by Boeing and Space X to become NASA’s next vehicle for crewed missions into orbit.

NASA and SNC are testing the Dream Chaser at the Dryden Flight Research Center, which is at Edwards Air Force Base in California. On Thursday, the vehicle passed a critical airborne test known as a captive carry test. A crane helicopter carried Dream Chaser aloft for two hours, and it reached a maximum altitude of 12,400 feet.

According to NASA, the spacecraft followed the projected flight path it will use on future approaches and landings. Of the three spacecraft NASA is testing, the Dream Chaser is the only one that takes off and lands like the Space Shuttle.

The tests also validated Dream Chaser’s flight computer, guidance, navigation and control systems, and deployed the landing gear and nose skid.

So far the Dream Chaser’s trips have not been elegant—earlier this month it was towed around runways by a pickup truck for ground systems tests. But they’re important as Sierra Nevada ticks off items on NASA’s list of mission capabilities and safety features it needs the spacecraft to have.

SOMALOGIC GETS $10M: Boulder-based biotech company SomaLogic received a $10 million investment this week. The company won’t comment on who the investor is or what it will do with the money, and the SEC filing only says it was from a single investor.

SomaLogic has raised about $200 million since it was founded in 2000. The last three equity investments in the company have come in relatively small amounts from single investors, with two infusions of $5 million and $15 million being made in 2010.

Xconomy recently wrote an article on SomaLogic and its ambitions. The short version is SomaLogic is trying to make diagnostic tests and devices that will be part of the “personalized medicine” revolution. The idea is that SomaLogic tests will be able to discover the protein biomarkers diseases create before a patient starts showing symptoms.

SomaLogic has spent years working on it, but before creating the tests it had to create and refine the technology that could identify protein biomarkers at all. SomaLogic is now selling that technology to academic and research institutions, following a deal with Agilent.

MORE MEMORY DEALS: Finally, SanDisk announced it has completed its $307 million acquisition of Smart Storage Systems. SanDisk (NASDAQ: SNDK) is a well-known developer of flash memory cards and drives for the consumer market, and it said it bought Smart Storage Systems to improve its line of enterprise solid state drives.

Smart Storage Systems has a research and development center in Longmont. The company opened the R&D center in July 2012 with the goal of capitalizing on the area’s talent in data storage technology. Other companies that have made similar investments are SolidFire, a startup based in Boulder that has raised $68 million in VC over the past few years, and Fusion-io (NYSE: FIO), which paid $119 million for NexGen Storage, which was based in Louisville.




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