Space industry expands orbit

The region’s aerospace industry is taking off, the Pacific Coast Business Times’ Jorge Mercado noted in his 805 Tech column:

  • Three Central Coast companies contributed to the James Webb Telescope and the incredible images it is now capturing
  • Vandenberg’s mission is rapidly expanding
  • Paso Robles’ spaceport proposal is gaining traction
  • And the region is producing companies like Umbra, which is drawing intense interest for its high-resolution satellite imagery.

“For us to get people who understand advanced space systems, we really can’t go anywhere else than Santa Barbara.” — Umbra Co-founder Gabe Dominocielo

That’s because there’s aerospace heritage in Santa Barbara that does not exist anywhere else, Dominocielo said. “Jack Northrop went to Santa Barbara High, where I went. The Lockheed brothers had their first airplane facility on State Street, a block from Umbra’s office now.”

NASA workers place satellite components
Credit: NASA

Also about to take off: The latest weather-tracking satellite in a decade-long NOAA/NASA partnership is set to launch from Vandenberg Nov. 1.

Cool fact: For more than a decade, the Joint Polar Satellite System satellites have each orbited the Earth from the North to the South Pole 14 times a day, flying over every spot on the planet at least twice.

For a super visual look at the mission and its role in tracking daily weather forecasts and long-term climate change, check out this overview from NOAA.

Also catching a ride is a NASA test of an inflatable heat shield that could on day help land humans on Mars — and return them back home. Watch a cool animation here.


Catch up on recent launch news: 

$1 trillion

Space industry annual revenue by 2040, according to Citigroup projections

The global space economy’s value reached $424 billion in 2020, expanding 70% since 2010.