Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space. Aerospace is a very diverse field, with a multitude of commercial, industrial and military applications.
Aerospace is not the same as airspace, which is a term used to describe the physical air space directly above a location on the ground.
In most industrial countries, the aerospace industry is a cooperation of public and private industries. For example, several countries have a space program under the command of the government, such as NASA in the United States, ESA in Europe, the Canadian Space Agency in Canada, Indian Space Research Organisation in India, RKA in Russia, China National Space Administration in China, and Iranian Space Agency in Iran.
Along with these public space programs, many companies produce technical tools and components such as spaceships and satellites. Some known companies involved in space programs include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, EADS, and Boeing. These companies are also involved in other areas of aerospace such as the construction of aircraft. Many countries have air transport companies, such as Air France and Air India.
- Main article: History of aviation
The field of aerospace has been investigated for millennia, but modern aerospace began with the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903, by the Wright brothers. From there, aerospace has grown to be one of the most exciting, diverse, and fast paced fields of today. From the hot-air balloons of 18th century to the first wood-and-cloth plane of Wilbur and Orville Wright to the first manned mission to the moon on Apollo 11 to the new and exciting aircraft being developed by companies like Boeing, Airbus, and Bombardier, aerospace has come a long way in a little over a century.
- Main article: Aerospace manufacturer
Aerospace manufacturing is a high technology industry that produces "aircraft, guided missiles, space vehicles, aircraft engines, propulsion units, and related parts," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Web site. Most of the industry is geared toward governmental work. For each original equipment manufacturer (OEM), the US government has assigned a CAGEcode. These codes help to identify each manufacturer, repair facilities, and other critical after market vendors in the aerospace industry.
In the European Union, aerospace companies such as EADS, BAE Systems, Thales, Dassault, Saab and Finmeccanica account for a large share of the global aerospace industry and research effort, with the European Space Agency as one of the largest consumers of aerospace technology and products.
In People's Republic of China, Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenyang and Nanchang are major research and manufacture centres of aerospace industry. China has developed extensive capability to design, test and produce military aircraft, missiles and space vehicles. However, despite the experimental model of Y-10, which was abolished in 1984, China is still developing its civil aerospace industry.
In India, Bangalore is a major centre of aerospace industry, being the place where Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the National Aerospace Laboratories and Indian Space Research Organisation are headquartered. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is undertaking a project to send an orbiter to moon, due mid 2008. This project has been titled Chandrayaan (Moon Craft).
In Russia, large aerospace companies like Oboronprom and the United Aircraft Building Corporation (encompassing Mikoyan, Sukhoi, Ilyushin, Tupolev, Yakovlev, and Irkut - which includes Beriev) are among the major global players in this industry. The historic Soviet Union was also the home of a very major aerospace industry.
The United Kingdom formerly attempted to maintain its own large aerospace industry, making its own airliners, warplanes, etc., but it has largely turned its lot over to cooperative efforts with continental companies, and it has turned into a large import customer, too, from countries like the United States.
In the United States of America, the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are the two largest consumers of aerospace technology and products. Others include the very large airline industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States reported that the aerospace industry employed 444,000 waged and salaried jobs in 2004. Most of those jobs were in Washington State and in California, with Missouri and Texas also important. The leading aerospace manufacturers in the U.S. and in the world are Boeing, United Technologies Corporation, and the Lockheed Martin Corp..
Important locations of the civilian aerospace industry worldwide include Washington State (Boeing), California (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc.); Montreal, Canada, (Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada); Toulouse, France, (Airbus/EADS); and Hamburg, Germany, Airbus/EADS); as well as São José dos Campos, where the Brazilian Embraer company is based. Some sources place Boeing in Chicago, but that is merely an office space location, and not an industrial location. Boeing really makes its large civil airplanes on the West Coast of the United States.
Important locations in the aerospace industry in the United States should not be viewed as those of the prime contractors, because there are also quite large companies and factories that just engage in subcontracting work now - but subcontracts that produce large assemblies that are worth many millions of U.S. dollars.
France has continued to make its own warplanes for its Air Force and its Navy, and Sweden continues to make its own warplanes for the Swedish Air Force - especially in support of its position as a neutral country. (See SAAB.) Other European countries either team up in making fighters (See the Panavia Tornado and the Eurofighter.), or else to import them from the United States.
Pakistan is also undertaking advancements in the field of aerospace engineering. It is now fulfilling its needs in the guided missile technology. After the establishment of the Institute of Space Technology, Pakistan is looking to advance in space technology as well as aircraft design and manufacturing.
The Aircraft parts industry was born out of the sale of second-hand or used aircraft parts from the Aerospace Manufacturer sector. Within the United States of America there is a specific process that parts brokers or resellers must follow. This includes leveraging a certified repair station to overhaul and 'tag' a part. This certification guarantees that a part was repaired or overhauled to meet OEM specifications. Once a part is overhauled its value is determined from the supply and demand of the aerospace market. When an airline has an aircraft on the ground also known as an 'AOG', the part that the airline requires to get the plane back into service becomes invaluable. This can drive the market for specific parts. There are several online market places that assist with the commodity selling of aircraft parts.
- Aerospace engineering
- Atmospheric reentry
- General aviation
- Space exploration
- Space agencies
- Wiktionary: Aviation, aerospace, and aeronautical terms
- Indian space Research Organization (ISRO) India
- Space and Upper Atmosphere Reasearch Commission (Suparco) Pakistan
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - U.S.
- European Space Agency (ESA) — E.U.
- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) — Japan
- BLS website on aerospace industry
- Aerospace Industries Association
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
- Federal Aviation Administration
- Iranian Aerospace Industries Organization
- Ioonos — YouSpace: Aerospace in Europe
- Aerospace Marketplace
- Aerospace Parts and Tools