Skip to main content

Space Event Explores How Houston is Advancing the Aerospace Industry

Published Oct 13, 2022 by Brina Morales

NASA astronaut training at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center

NASA astronaut training at JSC in 2019. (Courtesy: NASA/Bill Brassard)

Aerospace industry leaders shared why Houston is the current and future leader of human space exploration during the Partnership’s annual State of Space event on October 11. 

“At some point in the very near future, we’re going to land human beings on the moon, and we’re going to say, ‘Moon, Houston,’” NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins said during a panel discussion. “This is the only city in the world whose name is looped into this scenario.” 

Steve Altemus, Intuitive Machines’ President and CEO, Peggy Guirgis, General Manager of Space Systems at Collins Aerospace and Vanessa Wyche, Johnson Space Center Director, were also part of the panel moderated by Rice Space Institute Director David Alexander. The panel discussed the exciting developments occurring in Houston, including its involvement in NASA’s Artemis program. JSC serves as mission control for every manned mission, which will include Artemis 1 once it launches.  

“It’s incredible that we’re collectively leading this mission back to the moon and it’s starting from Houston,” Altemus said. Intuitive Machines is working on several projects for NASA, including developing lunar landers and other technology. The Houston-based company and Collins Aerospace are major tenants at the Houston Spaceport, a hub for aerospace and aviation activities.   

The panelists pointed to the region’s talent, infrastructure and “sense of community” as attributes that attract companies. That sense of community is what allows aerospace companies, NASA and others to “come together to achieve our goals,” Altemus said.  

But the panelists also noted that continued investments in infrastructure, building a talent pipeline and more private-public partnerships will be key for Houston to be seen as the epicenter of human exploration and discovery.  

“We need to continue to collaborate and work together to ensure that we’re not only establishing the infrastructure, but that we continue building that talent pipeline that keeps pace with the rapidly changing ecosystem,” Guirgis said. 

Innovators, companies and local colleges and universities are already showing their commitment to investing in positioning Houston as a leader in the aerospace industry. The Collins Aerospace facility at the spaceport will include Houston’s first-ever spaceflight incubator, where startups, universities and industry professionals will be able to solve complex space technology challenges. Additionally, the San Jacinto College EDGE Center focuses on building a talent pipeline, and the Ion is partnering with JSC to launch a technology transfer center at the ion to bolster innovation

“No one country is going to be able to do this on their own. It’s going to require our international, industry and academia partners. It’s going to require all of us,” Wyche said. 

Houston is home to over 350 companies involved in aircraft or space vehicle manufacturing, research and technology or other air transportation support activities. The region’s trade in aircraft, spacecraft, and parts totaled $1.3 billion in 2021. 

Learn more about Houston’s aerospace and aviation industry

Related News

Aerospace & Aviation

Houston’s Unique Convergence of Industries Takes Center Stage in Delegation Trip to the West Coast

The West Coast has long been recognized for its life sciences and tech ecosystems, but when those companies look to scale or expand operations, Houston is a top destination. This symbiotic relationship was a defining characteristic of the Partnership’s recent delegation trip to the West Coast, led by its Regional Economic Development team.   The delegation focused on building key corporate relationships with top companies in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley to explore future collaboration opportunities that would help the Greater Houston region to attract more jobs and investment, while also giving California companies access to new markets and room for continued growth.  San Diego’s leadership and status as a thriving life sciences hub made it a valuable destination for our delegation to learn about neuroscience, cancer research, and corporate real estate through productive meetings with the Salk Institute, BioSapien, and Intersect Management. The Partnership’s delegation, which included leaders from the Texas Medical Center, Cell Therapy Manufacturing Center (CTMC), and The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership, shared how Houston can work to assist life sciences companies in their research and the opportunities available for similar developments in the Greater Houston region.  Houston’s emergence as a growing life sciences ecosystem was also the focus of meetings in the Bay Area with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to learn about its work in cell and gene therapy, especially as it relates to CTMC in Houston, and with Bionova Scientific to discuss their work in biologics.  The unique industry convergence of life sciences and the energy transition in Houston is providing opportunities for development and collaboration between diverse companies across different sectors. Meetings with Sempra Energy, TÜV SÜD America, and BASF explored this rare convergence and what it could mean for companies located in the two regions’ ecosystems. Delegates, including leaders from Rice University, Cemvita, and Alchemy Industrial, also visited with Google to discuss their continued investment in Houston’s digital tech and energy transition ecosystems.  As part of the Partnership’s ongoing economic development efforts, delegates met with top site selection companies in the Los Angeles area to explore expansion opportunities for companies focused on sustainability, energy transition, digital tech, manufacturing, and logistics – all core strengths for Houston’s distinctive market.  The delegation closed out a successful week by hosting a signature reception and dinner in partnership with the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI). The evening’s programming included an energy startup panel that featured expert panelists from Activate Berkeley Community, Cemvita, Alchemy Industrial, and Rice University to discuss present and future efforts relating to the energy transition and Houston’s startup ecosystem. Learn more about why companies choose Houston.
Read More
Aerospace & Aviation

Texas Southern University to Open Aviation Training Facility at Ellington Airport

Texas Southern University is expanding its aviation program by opening a training facility at Ellington Airport, further bolstering the region’s investment in the aviation sector, and training the next generation of pilots.  The City of Houston recently authorized a memorandum of agreement between the Houston Airport System and TSU, which will span five years. HAS has agreed to invest up to $5 million to build the new two-acre facility. Once complete, it will include an aircraft hanger, an aircraft apron, and 7,200 square feet of office and training/classroom space.  “This opportunity provides an enhanced environment for student learning opportunities as we work to address our nation’s critical aviation needs,” TSU’s Executive Director of Aviation Terence Fontaine said. “Furthermore, it provides space for our fleet of eight aircraft to be housed inside and protected from weather conditions, thus allowing us to preserve them for extended use.” TSU will join a list of already impressive tenants at Houston Spaceport, including San Jacinto College’s aerospace program, Intuitive Machines, Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace. The EDGE Center offers students hands-on experience in electrical, design, manufacturing, and operating and maintenance.  “The air transportation industry in Houston and across the United States is growing and provides career opportunities for those with the skills needed to succeed,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects overall employment of airline and commercial pilots to grow six percent from 2021 to 2031, with about 18,100 openings for airline and commercial pilots each year.  More than 500 aviation and aerospace-related companies operate in Houston with more than, 23,000 aerospace and aviation-relation professionals. Earlier this year, United Airlines opened a new expanded Inflight Training Center at Bush Intercontinental Airport. The new facility will train more than 600 flight attendants per month. In addition to the programs at TSU and SJC, Lone Star College offers a pilot program at its Conroe campus.  Learn more about Houston’s aerospace and aviation industries.
Read More

Related Events

Aerospace & Aviation

Strong, Diverse 21st Century Economy Forum - Aerospace and Aviation

Our reimagined Councils - now Forums - offer networking and in-depth discussions on topics centered around industries and initiatives moving Houston forward as a great global city. This Council will focus on…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners