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Report details NASA's $84 million economic impact in NC

Posted September 25, 2020 3:38 p.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2020 9:26 a.m. EDT

The Nasdaq MarketSite tower displays a congratulatory message to NASA as the agency announces a five-part plan to open the International Space Station to expanded commercial and marketing activities and private astronaut missions to the station and enable additional commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit, Friday, June 7, 2019 at Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City. NASA will continue to maintain human presence and research in low-Earth orbit, and the long-term goal is to achieve a robust economy from which NASA can purchase services at a lower cost. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA released its first economic impact report this week. The independent study was prepared by the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Joshua Drucker, one of the study’s authors, an associate professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Program at UIC earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

While most of the 186,94 civil servants that make up NASA’s labor force are concentrated at NASA’s centers in Maryland, Texas, Virginia, Alabama and Florida, the agency’s economic impact is felt across the country.

The 2,670 page report details more than 312,000 jobs across the country supported by spaceflight, aerospace and science operations and research and the more than $64 billion in economic output.

“An investment of just one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget, NASA generates significant total economic output annually," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. "This study confirms, and puts numbers to, what we have long understood — that taxpayer investment in America’s space program yields tremendous returns that strengthen our nation on several fronts — a stronger economy, advances in science and technology and improvements to humanity.”

North Carolina impact

Overall the study points to $84 million in economic impact in North Carolina. Twenty-nine percent of that comes from scientific research and development services.

This includes $27 million in contracts for goods and/services, with $12.1 million alone focused on the Moon to Mars initiative. This spending alone generated $2.8 million in tax revenues for the state and local government.

North Carolina companies from Mount Airy to Charlotte to here in central North Carolina are involved in the Artemis Program focused on sending the first woman and next man to the Moon developing the techniques and technologies necessary to put the first humans on Mars.

The NASA map of Artemis partners includes Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Research Triangle Park location work on selecting suitable landing sites on Mars (HLS2). Railinc Corporation of Cary supports the Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program. BTC Electronic Components of Wake Forest which specializes in connectors for the defense and aerospace industries is supplying NASA’s newest rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS). Vishay Measurements Group of Wendell supplies measurement and control devices for the Orion capsule that will take those astronaut to the Moon and beyond.

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