Actually, it's already a big deal. SpaceX has a workforce of 1,800 people, most of them based at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne. That's a significant number of jobs in an industry that's been shrinking substantially. What happens now will depends whether this singular event can be turned into a routine event. Susanne Whatley sits in for Steve Julian this week. Available at kpcc.org and podcast (Business Update with Mark Lacter).
Whatley: But what about the rest of the area's aerospace industry?
Lacter: Well, there were huge losses in the '90s, but employment has been relatively stable over the last few years, thanks to the defense electronics business, which is very big, and the missile and space business. The actual assembly of aircraft is not a large part of the local economy anymore. The Pentagon has given up on the C-17 cargo plane (though Boeing still has orders for customers overseas), and then you have the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that's been facing all kinds of cost overruns and productions snags. The Pentagon is under pressure to drastically cut costs.
Whatley: Not like the old days...
Lacter: Susanne, do you know that back in the '80s, one out of every 10 aerospace jobs in the country was located in L.A. County? That's truly remarkable. And that's why the whole SpaceX phenomenon is such a big deal. If they are able to shoot up those rockets and space capsules on a routine basis, it could represent a fundamental shift in the Southern California aerospace industry.
Whatley: And more jobs for the local aerospace industry...
Lacter: Potentially. Again, it's very early, and already SpaceX has competition for a piece of that NASA business. But the news is definitely promising.
*Update: From the Business Journal:
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) on Tuesday said it has signed the first commercial contract for its large Falcon Heavy rocket with satellite services giant Intelsat. Intelsat, a Luxembourg company with Washington, D.C. administrative headquarters, is considered the world's largest provider of fixed satellite services. Space Exploration or SpaceX, the Hawthorne company which last week used its smaller Falcon 8 rocket to launch its Dragon capsule to the International Space Station, will supply a Falcon Heavy rocket that will launch an Intelsat satellite into a low Earth orbit commonly used for communications satellites.