California's Aerospace Days

Friday, February 26, 2016

California Aerospace

The California Legislature is recognizing February 29 and March 1, 2016 as “California Aerospace Days.” To download a schedule of events, click here.

A cornerstone of California innovation has always been our aerospace industry, and it’s important that we allow it to continue to grow and thrive. Advancing our space exploration abilities will not only enable expansion of future space discovery, but will protect and grow job opportunities here in California and the United States.

The California aerospace industry is a powerful, reliable source of employment, innovation, and export income for the state. According to industry reports, aerospace directly employs more than 203,000 Californians and supports more than 511,000 jobs resulting in $2.9 billion in annual state income tax revenues.

Location, Location, Location

California is home to many outstanding sites of air and space activity, including:

  • Three NASA research and engineering centers,
  • Vandenberg Air Force Base,
  • Two Federal Aviation Administration-licensed launch sites,
  • The Mojave Air and Spaceport,
  • More than 20 astronomical observatories,
  • Multiple international airports,
  • Many important defense aerospace bases, and
  • Hundreds of business and general aviation airfields.

California is also home to Edwards Air Force Base, the site of five test flights of the Shuttle Enterprise, the landing site of 54 Space Shuttle missions, and the site of the 199 X-15 missions.

Aviation and Aerospace Firsts

Californians should be proud of our many aeronautical firsts. Hero of flight Chuck Yeager flew faster than the speed of sound, and the speed record of former State Senator Pete Knight still stands today.

Additionally, California leads the nation in human space exploration. These milestones include:

  • Production of the Apollo 11 command module,
  • Production and landing of the Space Shuttle orbiters,
  • Production and recovery of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, and
  • Production and recovery of the Falcon launch vehicle, the first privately funded space exploration system.

Robotic space exploration also has its roots in California. Many of our most successful spacecraft were designed and built at research centers in our state. For example: 

  • The Explorer 1, America’s first successful satellite,
  • The Mariner 2, the first spacecraft to explore another planet,
  • The Viking, the first spacecraft to perform experiments on another planet, and
  • The Pioneer 10, the first space probe to exit our solar system were all created in California.

As you can see, many remarkable aviation and aerospace advancements happened here in California. And although the world is a much different place than it was decades ago when the aerospace industry first found its place in our state, California’s entrepreneurs and skilled workforce will ensure that we continue to be a world leader in aerospace innovation and job creation.