Transforming Space: California Continues Legacy as Space Development Epicenter

LOS ANGELES-- In a precursor to what National Space Society (NSS) members can expect tosee in 2006, the California Space Authority and the California Space Educationand Workforce Institute hosted their first annual space conference at the LosAngeles Airport Sheraton Gateway Hotel this month.

Held at the site of the NSS' 2006 InternationalSpace Development Conference, the two-dayTransformingSpace: California Innovation, Infrastructure and Intellectual Capital conference drew more than 500 attendees.

During the meeting, panelists shared thoughts on the space roles of California and thecountry in the 21st Century, with leaders from the space industry, government,military, and academia alongside a strong NSS presence that included societyexecutive director George Whitesides, NSS Governor and Apollo 11 astronaut BuzzAldrin, and NSS Advisor Stanley G. Rosen.

Theconference--which endedDec. 2--offered a unique forum to address the latest issues and challengesfacing the space enterprise community, as well as how to continue maintaining astrong presence in the state. The Transforming Space meeting highlitedCalifornia's tremendous accomplishments in the three sectors of space--civil,national security and commercial--as well as in space-related education.

It's onlynatural for California to finally flex its aerospace muscle, despite themedia's premature reporting of the industry's demise in the state and thegrowth of other "aerospace states" such as Florida, Texas, Colorado, Alabama,Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Alaska.

Unlikethose states, California enjoys a statewide space enterprise communityunmatched in the rest of U.S., or the world for that matter. Itsend-to-end space capabilities are facilitated by the state's rich mix ofintellectual capital, investment in innovation, leading edge technology developmentsand market savvy. 

California'saerospace and aviation industry accounts for nearly 300,000 employees, $16.1billion in annual payroll, and $100 billion in annual revenue. Despite the recent exodus of somecompanies to other states, more than 50% of the nation's aerospace and aviationsuppliers are still located in California.

"It isan exciting time for space exploration and I'm glad we can all gather here todiscuss the important space policy issues that lie before us," said Rep. KenCalvert (R-California), who served as and honorary co-chair of the conference alongsideRep. Jane Harman (D-California).

"Someof the most significant ideas, plans and concepts in the American spaceenterprise were conceived, developed and constructed right here inCalifornia," Calvert said.  "As we enter a Second Space Age, I'mconfident California will continue this legacy and be at the forefront of spacetourism, implementing the President's space exploration vision, and making thenecessary investments in education to produce our future workforce."

Accordingto Victoria Bradshaw, secretary of the state's Labor and Workforce DevelopmentAgency, California continues to hold the largest share of the world aerospaceand aviation market, and the industry continues to play a prominent role in thestate's economy.

"Nearlya quarter of the U.S. aerospace and aviation jobs are based in California,representing 24% of the $83 billion annual global space market," Bradshawsaid.  "Despite industry downsizing and corporate consolidations thatoccurred in the 1990's, the Golden State continues to remain the single largestsource of specialized firms, technology, exports and advanced collegedegrees."

Civil spaceaccomplishments focused on the three NASA centers that are located in thestate: the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Ames Research Center inSan Jose and Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. 

Collectively,the three centers continue to make significant contributions to the nation'sspace exploration activities, covering a broad spectrum that includes--but isnot limited to--s nanotechnology, planetary research and launch vehicletesting. The centers contribute more than $4.3 billion to the state'seconomy and employ more than 7,000 people in high-tech, high wage jobs.

Nationalsecurity space issues were represented by the state's seven military bases withsignificant space assets, including the Space and Missile Center (SMC) at LosAngeles Air Force Base, the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, theAir Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base and the Naval AirWarfare Center at China Lake.

With a50-year legacy of mission success and innovative development of critical assets such as MILSATCOM, Global Positioning Satellite and EvolvedExpendable Launch Vehicle, SMC leads numerous transformation-relatedinitiatives for the U.S. Air Force. SMC procures all of the Air Force'sspace hardware and services through contracts worth $9 billion each year andemploys more than 36,000 military personnel and civil servants as well as morethan 2,100 contractors.

Not to beoutdone, commercial space accomplishments covered the recent successes ofcompanies such as Scaled Composites in Mojave and SpaceDev in San Diego, whotogether won the Ansari X Prize via the flights of SpaceShipOne in 2004. Additionally, the Transforming Space conference covered groundbreaking events,such as the upcoming maiden flight of the Falcon 1 rocket, a creation of ElonMusk's Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in El Segundo.  It isestimated by California's Labor and Workforce Development Agency thatcommercial space companies contribute more than $83 billion to the state'seconomy and provide more than 250,000 jobs.

"Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger and his administration recognize the economic value ofspace enterprise to California," said Sunne Wright McPeak, the state's secretaryof Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.  "However,California's future economic opportunities associated with successful inlandspaceports cannot be taken for granted.  We are dedicated to remaining apreferred location and partner for investment by space enterprisecompanies."

Wright-McPeakadded that her agency and the state's Labor and Workforce Development Agencyremain committed to ensuring that the design and manufacturing of the nextgeneration of spacelift vehicles--including the replacement Crew ExplorationVehicle for the expected 2010 retirement of the space shuttle fleet--locates andremains in California.

Finally,space-related education discussions included the contributions of non-profitorganizations such as the Chabot Science Center in Oakland, the AerospaceInstitute in Los Angeles and all of the state's colleges anduniversities. Recent successes include the University of CaliforniaRiverside's Bourns School of Engineering and the CubeSat program, whichincluded students from Stanford University and California Polytechnic'sTechnical Institute who designed, built and launched payloads into orbit.

The baby boomergeneration was inspired by the nation's successful efforts to first land humanson the moon. But as its numbers prepare to retire, there is a projectedlack of engineers and scientists to replace them. With emerging spacefaringnations such as China, Japan, Brazil and India graduating many times thenumbers of engineers that are graduating in the U.S., these ongoing efforts toeducate and train the space workforce of the future is vital to assurecontinued access to space.

NOTE: The views of this article are theauthor's and do not reflect the policies of the National Space Society.

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