manufacturing of airplanes

What the Latest Space Developments Mean to Aerospace Manufacturing

It may have been Star Trek that introduced us to space as “the final frontier.” 

But it’s less sci-fi and more reality today—more than a half-century following the show’s debut—that our government is embracing the continuing mission of the Starship Enterprise, “…to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

And this has implications for the future of aerospace manufacturing, one of the major precision industries that we support here at Fluid Conditioning Products.

The Establishment of Space Force

Based on a directive by President Donald Trump in the middle of summer 2018, the United States Space Force was presented as another military branch, joining the current five military branches. Its mission was not intended to create an elite force of combat-ready spacemen, but rather to expand space operations in support of national security.

With China and Russia aggressively pursuing their space programs, the goal is to protect U.S. interests. Equally important, the creation of Space Force will capitalize on the vast economic opportunity presented by space and provide an influx of opportunities for aerospace manufacturers, communications providers, and others.

U.S. Goal to Control U.S. Space

Militarily, if the U.S. can control space, it will gain a strategic advantage in the event of war, not only from a communications standpoint, but also from the perspective of launching attacks. It’s critical to national security.

But make no mistake. There is a massive commerce opportunity attached to having superior space capabilities, especially for aerospace manufacturers. Indeed, the U.S. Commerce Department has taken considerable interest in Space Force considering that space has become an engine for global commerce and business growth.

At a space symposium earlier this year, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross gave a keynote address where he indicated that the space market could be worth more than a trillion dollars in two decades. He went on to promote keeping the U.S. at the forefront of manufacturing capabilities, saying:

“At the Commerce Department, our goal is to ensure that the United States captures the lion’s share of the burgeoning space markets. We are bullish on making and keeping America the flag of choice for innovative space companies.”

What Exactly is Space Force?

Simply put, Space Force is a proposed military branch that would join the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and National Guard and become the sixth branch of our armed forces. Its primary focus will be on national security and preserving the satellites and vehicles dedicated to international communications and observation.

When you consider how heavily the U.S. government and military rely on satellites for weather forecasting, collecting high-resolution images for intelligence, directing missiles with GPS satellites, and more, it’s evident that controlling space is critical.

Although the current Air Force Space Command exists as part of the United States Air Force, Space Force represents an independent military branch dedicated to space. And there is a significant cost associated with creating this dedicated military branch—as much as $13 billion in its first five years. The question remains whether it will be worth it at this moment in history.

Impact on U.S. Commercial Space

Echoing Commerce Secretary Ross, banking giant Morgan Stanley envisions space as the next trillion-dollar economic driver and has already raised investor awareness. The company previously identified 20 company stocks focused on the new space race, and is monitoring 100 other private companies associated with satellite internet, rockets, and even space tourism.

Even without the advent of Space Force, space represents a $350 billion opportunity, which is roughly half a percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product. Satellite services alone, such as satellite TV and communications, represented a $127 billion market as far back as 2015. Other areas presenting economic impacts include navigation and timing, satellite imagery, disaster response, weather prediction, and data transmission. With potential investments into new technologies, that’s how the number could grow to $1 trillion, especially as countries recognize the need to have space capabilities to maintain national security.

The aerospace industry has responded enthusiastically to the government’s support of keeping our U.S. space industry competitive, evidenced by the Aerospace Industry Association releasing a summary analysis of recommendations in mid-2017.

And discussions continue about where a new Air Force U.S. Space Command—invigorated by significant government investment beginning in the fiscal year 2020—will be located. Whether Space Force comes to pass now or not, a new region of the country (potentially Colorado) may emerge as the de facto headquarters of space innovation soon.

No matter what happens as we begin further advancement into that great “final frontier,” Fluid Conditioning Products will continue to support our valuable aerospace sector with quality filtration products. Have a project you’d like us to quote? Submit your RFQ/Quote Request now.