The aerospace industry posted more than $216 billion in sales in 2010, a 20 percent increase above 2009.
The figure is still down from the record highs in 2007, but industry experts are hopeful the increase marks the end of recent declines in orders.
“Aerospace has produced solid results, leading all manufacturers in trade surplus,” said Marion C. Blakey, present and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association.
Space sales remained flat in 2010. With minimal growth projected for the NASA budget through 2015, opportunities for growth will most likely come from international customers, she said. Countries like China and India are aggressively pursuing a space agenda.
Rising imports and falling exports led to a 5 percent drop in the industry’s trade balance, but its surplus of $53.3 billion is still the strongest of any manufacturing industry.
Employment declined for the second straight year, but at a much slower rate than initially predicted.
“Job retention and growth is on everyone’s mind these days,” she said. “This is why there is a need to invest in the next generation air transportation system.”
Blakey said deep cuts to the defense budgets are troubling on two fronts.
“The United States’ security relies on maintaining our defense technological advantage,” she said. “Additionally, if we don’t sustain the investment in the industrial base, opportunities for good jobs will dwindle.”
The aerospace industry employs more than 2 million jobs nationwide.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, known as MAVEN, will be led by the University of Colorado’s laboratory for atmospheric and space physics lab.
The state’s private industry is involved in the project as well. Lockheed Martin’s Denver offices will design, build and operate the $485 million spacecraft, which will explore the past climate of Mars, including its potential for harboring life over the eons.
“A better understanding of the upper atmosphere and the loss of volatile compounds like carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and water to space is required to plug a major hole in our understanding of Mars,” said LASP associated director Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator on the mission and CU professor.
The CU team will also provide science operations, build two of the science instruments and lead education outreach for the MAVEN mission, which will launch in 2013.
The economy is rebounding but United Launch Alliance is planning to cut its workforce by 19 percent over the next few years in order to reduce costs.
The Denver-based company will mostly do away with overlaps in its Atlas and Delta rocket programs, said ULA Chief Operating Officer Dan Collins.
The reduction follows a 16-percent staff reduction over the past four years.
United Launch Alliance was established in December 2006, and reportedly has cut costs by 25 percent over the previous generations of rockets.
Collins announced the news at the Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. The conference was organized by the Air Force Association.
The layoffs stem from the merger of Boeing’s Atlas and Lockheed Martin’s Delta rocket programs. ULA, a company created from that merger, has promised cost savings as a result of the union. At the time it was announced, officials said the merger would save up to $150 million a year in savings. The company has launched 45 times successfully. It conducted eight launches in 2010 and has 12 scheduled in 2011.
Collins told the symposium that the merger of the programs has already achieved savings of $800 million.
ULA now has 3,700 people, down from the combined work force of 4,400 when it was created. It will drop to 3,000 over the next few years.
ULA’s only competition will be Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, Calif., whose Falcon9 rocket recently completed a demonstration mission of launching into low Earth orbit and recovering cargo.
NASA is asking for applications from graduate students for the agency’s new Space Technology Research Fellowships.
The goal is to provide the nation with a pipeline of highly skilled engineers and technologists to improve America’s competitiveness.
The program is coupled with a larger, national research and development effort in science and technology that will lead to new products and services, new business and industries and high quality sustainable jobs.
The deadline for submitting fellowship proposals is Feb. 23. For more information, go to www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/early_stage_innovation/grants.NSTRF.html.
Amy Gillentine can be reached at 719-329-5205 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.