Mississippi matters for aerospace – whether your aircraft is manned or unmanned or if your destination is Mars or just the mall. We’re a full-spectrum aerospace state with leading manufacturers in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), manned aircraft and the space industry. Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics, Aurora Flights Sciences, Rolls Royce, IAI North America, GE Aviation, Raytheon, Finmecanica, Boeing, Airbus, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Space-X all work in Mississippi.
But why does Mississippi matter for aerospace? Why do so many aerospace companies do business in Mississippi?
Mississippi matters because our governor runs a business-friendly state and makes aerospace a priority. The Mississippi Development Authority works proactively with new aerospace companies to ensure they have the site and the workforce necessary to get to work immediately. That’s why Mississippi is consistently ranked as a top ten of states for doing business by Area Development Magazine.
Mississippi matters because it’s one of the few places where a high tech aerospace workforce is available at reasonable labor rates in a business-friendly environment. As a matter of fact, Business Facilities Magazine ranked Mississippi #1 for competitive labor costs in 2014. There’s great synergy between our aerospace workforce and our other big advanced manufacturing in the automotive and shipbuilding industries.
Mississippi matters because we have top-notch research universities available to solve really tough aerospace manufacturing problems. Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Lab is the oldest in the country and has some of the most advanced composites equipment anywhere. They built the worlds’ first all composite aircraft in 1963, then prototyped the world’s first composite business jet in the early 90’s. They have the largest university autoclave in the country and have used it to build prototype wings for Aurora Flight Science’s giant Orion UAS and Boeing’s hydrogen- powered Phantom Eye UAS. Their High Performance Computing Center is always available to our Mississippi manufacturers; it has the 11th fastest computer in U.S. academia, and they’re about to double its capacity. The University of Southern Mississippi makes its world-class Mississippi Polymer Institute available to work advanced coatings and corrosion control for UAS. Ole Miss has a brand-new Center for Manufacturing Excellence that specializes in robotic production. The state’s network of community and junior colleges support our aerospace industry – Hinds Community College in Jackson trains UAS pilots and East Mississippi Community College teaches advance composites manufacturing.
Mississippi matters for the space industry because we’re home to one of the few sites on the planet where industry can test rocket engines of any size. NASA’s Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is gearing up to test the engines that will take man to Mars. They also welcome commercial rocket testing – just ask Space-X or Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Finally, Mississippi matters because we know unmanned systems. We have multiple options in which UAS testing can take place. Our Army Guard at Camp Shelby is home to the Army’s Regional UAS Flight Center. We are currently making strides toward the integration of unmanned aerial and maritime systems working on issues as diverse as environmental monitoring to offshore oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. NASA Stennis Space Center is in the final stages of approval for restricted airspace covering most of its 125,000 acre acoustic buffer zone to support military and civilian UAS operations. Mississippi State University has FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] certificates of authorization [COAs] to fly UAS over all of the lower Pearl River and most of the Mississippi Delta researching cutting edge applications for precision agriculture methods. Mississippi State University is leading a team of 18 of the world’s best UAS universities to be the first FAA UAS center of excellence. Our team has more than 100 corporate partners, including Amazon Prime Air, which means Mississippi really can help you get all the way to Mars or just across town to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less!