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A view of the Earth's atmosphere with the Moon beyond Top of Atmosphere.jpg
A view of the Earth's atmosphere with the Moon beyond

Aerospace is the human effort in science, engineering and business to fly in the atmosphere of Earth (aeronautics) and surrounding space (astronautics). Aerospace organizations research, design, manufacture, operate, or maintain aircraft or spacecraft. Aerospace activity is very diverse, with a multitude of commercial, industrial and military applications.

Atmosphere The layer of gases surrounding an astronomical body held by gravity

An atmosphere is a layer or a set of layers of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in place by the gravity of that body. An atmosphere is more likely to be retained if the gravity it is subject to is high and the temperature of the atmosphere is low.

Aeronautics science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines

Aeronautics is the science or art involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight capable machines, and the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere. The British Royal Aeronautical Society identifies the aspects of "aeronautical Art, Science and Engineering" and "the profession of Aeronautics ."

Outer space Void between celestial bodies

Outer space, or just space, is the expanse that exists beyond the Earth and outside of any astronomical object. Outer space is not completely empty—it is a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles, predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, neutrinos, dust, and cosmic rays. The baseline temperature, as set by the background radiation from the Big Bang, is 2.7 kelvins. The plasma between galaxies accounts for about half of the baryonic (ordinary) matter in the universe; it has a number density of less than one hydrogen atom per cubic metre and a temperature of millions of kelvins; local concentrations of this plasma have condensed into stars and galaxies. Studies indicate that 90% of the mass in most galaxies is in an unknown form, called dark matter, which interacts with other matter through gravitational but not electromagnetic forces. Observations suggest that the majority of the mass-energy in the observable universe is a poorly understood vacuum energy of space, which astronomers label dark energy. Intergalactic space takes up most of the volume of the universe, but even galaxies and star systems consist almost entirely of empty space.


Aerospace is not the same as airspace, which is the physical air space directly above a location on the ground. The beginning of space and the ending of the air is considered as 100 km above the ground according to the physical explanation that the air pressure is too low for a lifting body to generate meaningful lift force without exceeding orbital velocity. [1]

Airspace portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country above its territory

Airspace is the portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country above its territory, including its territorial waters or, more generally, any specific three-dimensional portion of the atmosphere. It is not the same as aerospace, which is the general term for Earth's atmosphere and the outer space in its vicinity.


In most industrial countries, the aerospace industry is a cooperation of public and private industries. For example, several countries have a civilian space program funded by the government through tax collection, such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States, European Space Agency in Europe, the Canadian Space Agency in Canada, Indian Space Research Organisation in India, Japanese Aeronautics Exploration Agency in Japan, RKA in Russia, China National Space Administration in China, SUPARCO in Pakistan, Iranian Space Agency in Iran, and Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) in South Korea.

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.

NASA space-related agency of the United States government

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

European Space Agency intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space

The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,200 in 2018 and an annual budget of about €5.72 billion in 2019.

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 Boeing, Cobham, Airbus, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, MacDonald Dettwiler and Northrop Grumman. These companies are also involved in other areas of aerospace such as the construction of aircraft.

Spacecraft manned vehicle or unmanned machine designed to fly in outer space

A spacecraft is a vehicle or machine designed to fly in outer space. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, space colonization, planetary exploration, and transportation of humans and cargo. All spacecraft except single-stage-to-orbit vehicles cannot get into space on their own, and require a launch vehicle.

Satellite Human-made object put into an orbit around the earth or other planet

In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an artificial object which has been intentionally placed into orbit. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as Earth's Moon.

Boeing Aerospace and defense manufacturer in the United States

The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, and missiles worldwide. The company also provides leasing and product support services. Boeing is among the largest global aircraft manufacturers; it is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world based on 2017 revenue, and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value. Boeing stock is included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.


Modern aerospace began with Engineer George Cayley in 1799. Cayley proposed an aircraft with a "fixed wing and a horizontal and vertical tail," defining characteristics of the modern airplane. [2]

George Cayley British aeronautics engineer

Sir George Cayley, 6th Baronet was an English engineer, inventor, and aviator. He is one of the most important people in the history of aeronautics. Many consider him to be the first true scientific aerial investigator and the first person to understand the underlying principles and forces of flight.

The 19th century saw the creation of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain (1866), the American Rocketry Society, and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, all of which made aeronautics a more serious scientific discipline. [2] Airmen like Otto Lilienthal, who introduced cambered airfoils in 1891, used gliders to analyze aerodynamic forces. [2] The Wright brothers were interested in Lilienthal's work and read several of his publications. [2] They also found inspiration in Octave Chanute, an airman and the author of Progress in Flying Machines (1894). [2] It was the preliminary work of Cayley, Lilienthal, Chanute, and other early aerospace engineers that brought about the first powered sustained flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903, by the Wright brothers.

Otto Lilienthal German aviation pioneer

Otto Lilienthal was a German pioneer of aviation who became known as the "flying man". He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful flights with gliders. Newspapers and magazines published photographs of Lilienthal gliding, favorably influencing public and scientific opinion about the possibility of flying machines becoming practical. On 9 August 1896, his glider stalled and he was unable to regain control. Falling from about 15 m (50 ft), he broke his neck and died the next day, 10 August 1896.

In aeronautics and aeronautical engineering, camber is the asymmetry between the two acting surfaces of an aerofoil, with the top surface of a wing commonly being more convex. An aerofoil that is not cambered is called a symmetric aerofoil. The benefits of cambering were discovered and first utilized by Sir George Cayley in the early 19th century.


An airfoil or aerofoil is the cross-sectional shape of a wing, blade, or sail.

War and science fiction inspired great minds like Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Wernher von Braun to achieve flight beyond the atmosphere.

The launch of Sputnik 1 in October 1957 started the Space Age, and on July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 achieved the first manned moon landing. [2] In April 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched, the start of regular manned access to orbital space. A sustained human presence in orbital space started with "Mir" in 1986 and is continued by the "International Space Station". [2] Space commercialization and space tourism are more recent features of aerospace.


Aerospace manufacturing is a high-technology industry that produces "aircraft, guided missiles, space vehicles, aircraft engines, propulsion units, and related parts". [3] Most of the industry is geared toward governmental work. For each original equipment manufacturer (OEM), the US government has assigned a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code. These codes help to identify each manufacturer, repair facilities, and other critical aftermarket vendors in the aerospace industry.

In the United States, 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 aerospace industry employed 472,000 wage and salary workers in 2006. [4] Most of those jobs were in Washington state and in California, with Missouri, New York and Texas also being important. The leading aerospace manufacturers in the U.S. are Boeing, United Technologies Corporation, SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. These manufacturers are facing an increasing labor shortage as skilled U.S. workers age and retire. Apprenticeship programs such as the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Council (AJAC) work in collaboration with Washington state aerospace employers and community colleges to train new manufacturing employees to keep the industry supplied.

Important locations of the civilian aerospace industry worldwide include Washington state (Boeing), California (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc.); Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada); Toulouse, France (Airbus/EADS); Hamburg, Germany (Airbus/EADS); and São José dos Campos, Brazil (Embraer), Querétaro, Mexico (Bombardier Aerospace, General Electric Aviation) and Mexicali, Mexico (United Technologies Corporation, Gulfstream Aerospace).

In the European Union, aerospace companies such as EADS, BAE Systems, Thales, Dassault, Saab AB and Leonardo S.p.A. (formerly Finmeccnica) [5] 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 India, Bangalore is a major center of the aerospace industry, where Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the National Aerospace Laboratories and the Indian Space Research Organisation are headquartered. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched India's first Moon orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, in October 2008.

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 major aerospace industry.

The United Kingdom formerly attempted to maintain its own large aerospace industry, making its own airliners and warplanes, 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 such as the United States. However, the UK has a very active aerospace sector, including the second largest defence contractor in the world, BAE Systems, supplying fully assembled aircraft, aircraft components, sub-assemblies and sub-systems to other manufacturers, both in Europe and all over the world.

Canada has formerly manufactured some of its own designs for jet warplanes, etc. (e.g. the CF-100 fighter), but for some decades, it has relied on imports from the United States and Europe to fill these needs. However Canada still manufactures some military aircraft although they are generally not combat capable. Another notable example was the late 1950s development of the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow, a supersonic fighter-interceptor that was cancelled in 1959 a highly controversial decision.

France has continued to make its own warplanes for its air force and navy, and Sweden continues to make its own warplanes for the Swedish Air Forceespecially in support of its position as a neutral country. (See Saab AB.) Other European countries either team up in making fighters (such as the Panavia Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon), or else to import them from the United States.

Pakistan has a developing aerospace engineering industry. The National Engineering and Scientific Commission, Khan Research Laboratories and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex are among the premier organizations involved in research and development in this sector. Pakistan has the capability of designing and manufacturing guided rockets, missiles and space vehicles. The city of Kamra is home to the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex which contains several factories. This facility is responsible for manufacturing the MFI-17, MFI-395, K-8 and JF-17 Thunder aircraft. Pakistan also has the capability to design and manufacture both armed and unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles.

In the People's Republic of China, Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenyang and Nanchang are major research and manufacture centers of the aerospace industry. China has developed an extensive capability to design, test and produce military aircraft, missiles and space vehicles. Despite the cancellation in 1983 of the experimental Shanghai Y-10, China is still developing its civil aerospace industry.

The aircraft parts industry was born out of the sale of second-hand or used aircraft parts from the aerospace manufacture sector. Within the United States 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, 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 marketplaces that assist with the commodity selling of aircraft parts.

In the aerospaces & defense industry, a lot of consolidation has appeared over the last couple of decades. Between 1988 and 2011, worldwide more than 6,068 mergers & acquisitions with a total known value of 678 bil. USD have been announced. [6] The largest transactions have been:

Functional safety

Functional safety relates to a part of the general safety of a system or a piece of equipment. It implies that the system or equipment can be operated properly and without causing any danger, risk, damage or injury.

Functional safety is crucial in the aerospace industry, which allows no compromises or negligence. In this respect, supervisory bodies, such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA ), [11] regulate the aerospace market with strict certification standards. This is meant to reach and ensure the highest possible level of safety. The standards AS 9100 in America, EN 9100 on the European market or JISQ 9100 in Asia particularly address the aerospace and aviation industry. These are standards applying to the functional safety of aerospace vehicles. Some companies are therefore specialized in the certification, inspection verification and testing of the vehicles and spare parts to ensure and attest compliance with the appropriate regulations.


Spinoffs refer to any technology that is a direct result of coding or products created by NASA and redesigned for an alternate purpose. [12] These technological advancements are one of the primary results of the aerospace industry, with $5.2 billion worth of revenue generated by spinoff technology, including computers and cellular devices. [12] These spinoffs have applications in a variety of different fields including medicine, transportation, energy, consumer goods, public safety and more. [12] NASA publishes an annual report called “Spinoffs”, regarding many of the specific products and benefits to the aforementioned areas in an effort to highlight some of the ways funding is put to use. [13] For example, in the most recent edition of this publication, “Spinoffs 2015”, endoscopes are featured as one of the medical derivations of aerospace achievement. [12] This device enables more precise and subsequently cost-effective neurosurgery by reducing complications through a minimally invasive procedure that abbreviates hospitalization. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Aerospace manufacturer company involved in manufacturing aircraft, aircraft parts, missiles, rockets, and/or spacecraft

An aerospace manufacturer is a company or individual involved in the various aspects of designing, building, testing, selling, and maintaining aircraft, aircraft parts, missiles, rockets, or spacecraft. Aerospace is a high technology industry.

Collier Trophy annual aviation award administered by the US National Aeronautical Association

The Collier Trophy is an annual aviation award administered by the U.S. National Aeronautic Association (NAA), presented to those who have made "the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year."

Boeing Australia Holdings Pty Ltd, or simply Boeing Australia, is Boeing's largest footprint outside the United States. Established in 2002, the company oversees its seven wholly owned subsidiaries, consolidating and co-ordinating Boeing’s businesses and operations in Australia.

The National Aeronautic Association of the United States (NAA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and a founding member of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Founded in 1905, it is the oldest national aviation club in the United States and one of the oldest in the world, it serves as the “Aeroclub of the United States” and, by its Mission Statement it is "…dedicated to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation in the United States.” The NAA is headquartered at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, in Washington, D.C.

Nadcap is a global cooperative accreditation program for aerospace engineering, defense and related industries.

AS9100 is a widely adopted and standardized quality management system for the aerospace industry. It was released in October, 1999, by the Society of Automotive Engineers and the European Association of Aerospace Industries.

Hellenic Aerospace Industry company

Hellenic Aerospace Industry is the leading aerospace company of Greece. The company has undertaken over the years a great deal of subcontracting work with major International Aerospace companies and has accomplished many original developments in military electronics, telecommunications equipment, night vision equipment, wind generators and composite material technology.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the aerospace field:

Iran Aviation Industries Organization defense company of Iran

The Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO), also known as the Aerospace Industries Organization, is an Iranian state-owned corporation established in 1966 for the purpose of planning, controlling, and managing the civil & military aviation industry of Iran. The Aerospace Industries Organization acts as both an OEM, directly manufacturing aircraft and aerospace products, and as a conglomerate, holding other Iranian state-owned aviation corporations.

The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group or Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, a subsidiary of AVIC, is a Chinese aerospace conglomerate that designs and manufactures combat aircraft and is also a manufacturer of aircraft parts. It was founded in 1958 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China to be an aircraft supplier for the Chinese military.

Honeywell Aerospace is a manufacturer of aircraft engines and avionics, as well as a producer of auxiliary power units (APUs) and other aviation products. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, it is a division of the Honeywell International conglomerate. It generates approximately $10 billion in annual revenue from a 50/50 mix of commercial and defense contracts.

Korea Aerospace University is a private university in Goyang, Gyeonggi, South Korea. Established in 1952 as a national university, it was taken over by Jungseok Foundation established by Hanjin Group and transferred to a private university. The university — which encompasses most of the aerospace fields including Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Electronics, Telecommunications, Computer Engineering, Air Transportation and Logistics, Aeronautical Science & Flight Operation, and Air and Space Law — has been designated to take several national undertakings and collaborative research projects with prominent global corporations including GE, Airbus, PLANSEE since 2009.

Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology is a college within Saint Louis University.

Aircraft industry of Russia Aircraft industry of Russia

Aircraft manufacturing is an important industrial sector in Russia, employing around 355,300 people. The dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a deep crisis for the industry, especially for the civilian aircraft segment. The situation started improving during the middle of the first decade of the 2000s due to growth in air transportation and increasing demand. A consolidation programme launched in 2005 led to the creation of the United Aircraft Corporation holding company, which includes most of the industry's key companies.

The Robert J. Collier Trophy is owned and administered by the National Aeronautic Association and is awarded annually "for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year."

Technodinamika, JSC (Russian: АО Технодинамика was established in 2009 in order to promote development, production and export of high-technology products for civil aviation markets. Originally established as Aviation Equipment Holding, it was given its current name in 2015.

Boeing UK is the UK subsidiary of Boeing, an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets and satellites.


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