Tuesday, May 14, 2024

U.S. Aerospace Industry: A Crown Jewel Sullied

The state of our aerospace industry is worrisome.
"In recent years, however, the dangers of resting on our collective laurels and ambling ahead with no real vision have become apparent. Boeing’s ongoing 737 MAX debacle and the chronic manufacturing issues with its 787 Dreamliner show just how far the once-proud commercial aviation giant has fallen—and transformed one of America’s leading aerospace companies into what one journalist took as the exemplar for the current “Dark Age of American Manufacturing.”

The industry’s problems aren’t confined to Boeing and its commercial aviation business, either. Lockheed’s challenges with the F-35 stealth fighter are well-known and ongoing, with software problems delaying the delivery of new jets to the U.S. Air Force as well as NATO allies like Denmark and Belgium. Nor has the company announced plans to expand production to meet increased demand, even after the war in Ukraine revealed production capacity shortfalls across the entire American defense industry and as orders for the older F-16 fighter remain backlogged.

In space, the United States has quickly become far too reliant on just one firm—SpaceX—for its launch and space exploration needs; problems with SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft have already delayed NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon with its Artemis III mission. Worse, NASA’s own famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the brains behind many of the agency’s robotic exploration programs, faces “broader institutional issues” that have delayed missions and forced them over budget. The cost of NASA’s ambitious Mars Sample Return mission has also skyrocketed, leading to significant changes to the planned mission.
Go and RTWT.