From Mars missions to new aviation technology, North County’s aerospace industry has built strong connections between companies, military and scientific initiatives.
The industry drives technological innovation, high wage employment and international (and universal) connectivity. North County’s aerospace cluster generates 13,800 total jobs and has an annual economic impact of $1.8 billion in San Diego County, taking into account direct, indirect, and induced effects. (EMSI).
With deep military roots, expertise in advanced manufacturing and a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem, the region is a hotbed for aerospace innovation. The proof is also in the location: Close proximity to Cali Baja, matched by North County’s year-round temperate weather, makes it possible for firms to conduct frequent testing, nearshore manufacturing and access specialized talent and suppliers—all critical elements to streamlined development and commercialization.
Below are just some of North County’s aerospace stars, from industry giants to growing startups leading the way in innovation and technological advancements.
The San Marcos-based company designs, develops, tests and flies propulsion launch vehicles, spacecraft and small satellite solutions. Parabilis was recently selected by the Department of Defense to develop a low-cost, high-performance, modular propulsion system utilizing nitrous oxide and ethane as green propellants for space vehicles.
mPower designs DragonSCALES—high efficiency silicon cells that come together to form solar plates for use with aerospace needs, on-earth infrastructure and efficient IoT device integration. These modules can be customized to any shape, thickness, voltage, size, material stack and other design considerations to meet application specific requirements. The Carlsbad company is currently designing charging stations with Honeybee Robotics for an upcoming NASA lunar mission.
Located in the heart of Vista, DART Aerospace provides industry-leading design, manufacturing and market-certified solutions for the helicopter and aerospace industry. Its key products and applications include emergency flotation systems, landing gear components, tools and ground support equipment, engine and drive systems and external load equipment.
Collins Aerospace is a leader in technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defense industry. The Carlsbad-based company helped build an optical system for NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Perseverance Rover, used during its mission to Mars in 2020.
Representing Oceanside, SAIC offers its clients a variety of space engineering support, systems engineering and situational awareness training, which are key for its aerospace and defense customers. Check out its virtual space mission training that deploys life-like, immersive environments for individuals or entire groups to facilitate operational visualization and mindset exercises.
Vista-based LMI Aerospace is a leading supplier of structural assemblies, kits and components and a provider of design engineering services to the commercial and defense customers like Boeing and Mitsubishi. LMI also provides engineering and program management services to support aircraft product life cycles from design to fleet support.
Viasat is a global communications company that brings the power of connectivity to people on land, in the air and at sea. Operating from its headquarters in Carlsbad, the company provides in-flight Wi-Fi solutions for commercial and business aviation customers like Delta Airlines, as well as satellite systems and wireless communications to connect hard-to-reach communities with the rest of the world.
Carbon by Design specializes in a suite of aerospace services such as manufacturing and refinement of unmanned systems, and develops of ablative and thermally conductive materials for electromagnetic and thermal protection environments. The Vista-based company also provides composite structure services including spacecraft interiors.
Vulcan Wireless provides digital communications solutions for terrestrial and space applications including embedded software, digital signal processing and digital radio design. Most famously, the Carlsbad company contributed to the design and manufacturing of transceivers that are helping JPL’s ASTERIA CubeSat study stellar and exoplanet activity.
Through these established companies and countless newcomers, North County’s Aerospace industry will continue to advance within our region, and with it, opportunity for young professionals, cutting-edge technology and economic prosperity that’s (literally) out of this world.
To learn more about the institutions training the tech and manufacturing workforce of tomorrow, check out our higher education blog. If you’re thinking about a career pivot or want to learn more about a life in North County, explore three reasons why you should #LiveWorkPlay here.