AIAA Celebrates California Aerospace Week Written 3 April 2013

By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications (2008-2017)

Pictured, center: CA State Senator Steve Knight, with (former) AIAA staff members Duane Hyland, left, and Ross Bell

What started as California Aerospace Day in 2012 has become California Aerospace Week, celebrated this year from 11–14 March. The event kicked off on Monday, 11 March with the reading of two proclamations in the California State Senate, sponsored by California State Senator Steve Knight, which thanked AIAA and NASA for organizing the California Aerospace Week and related events. Additionally, the Senate and later in the week the Assembly passed a Resolution designating March California Aerospace Month, highlighting the importance of the aerospace industry to California and praising the industry’s innovative and world-changing technology.

On Tuesday, 12 March, two panel discussions were held to educate lawmakers and the public about the importance of aerospace to California. The first panel, “California Dreamin’: Innovation and Advancements from the California Aerospace Industry,” featured: Stuart Witt, chief executive officer and general manager, Mojave Air and Space Port; Lt. Gen. Eugene Tattini, U.S. Air Force (retired), deputy director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.; Daryl Pelc, vice president, engineering and technology, Phantom Works, The Boeing Company; and Ken Washington, vice president, Advanced Technology Center, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. The panel discussed the scope and size of the aerospace industry in California, as well as its economic impact on the state, and its status as the state’s most powerful engine of job creation.

The second panel of the event was presented by NASA and looked at the application of space technology to monitoring environmental conditions in California. The panel featured: "Enhancing our Nation's Wildfire Management Through Application of NASA Science and Technology" Vincent Ambrosia, Senior Research Scientist, NASA Ames; “Improving Crop Water Use with NASA’s Technology” Edwin Sheffner, Deputy Division Chief, Earth Science Division, NASA Ames; "Monitoring California's Water from Space" Duane Waliser, Chief Scientist, Earth Science & Technology Division, NASA JPL; "Using Space Technology to Understand Earthquakes" Andrea Donnellan, Geophysicist, NASA JPL.

Later in the day, a roundtable session was held, allowing aerospace leaders to directly speak with both the California Senate Select Committee on Aerospace and Defense and the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace (recently reestablished following AIAA’s first California Aerospace Day in August of 2012) on a variety of matters pertaining to a continued aerospace presence in California.

Throughout the day on 12 March, visitors and local Sacramento schools came to view a collection of full-scale models of NASA’s Mars Rovers. A highlight of the event was the full-scale model of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover. NASA’s exhibits also included a booth with information on NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, and an area where the public could experience the Mars Rover’s innovative wheel system, as NASA technicians drove the remote controlled system across willing the bodies of willing volunteers. Thousands of residents in the Sacramento area turned out to see the displays.

On 13 March, AIAA members visited members of the California Legislature for one-on-one discussions about the importance of the aerospace industry to California and the benefit of the industry to the state. The event closed on 14 March, with legislative members and staff touring the NASA Ames and Lockheed Martin Space Systems to learn about NASA’s ongoing mission there, and to see, first hand, some of the technology discussed, including the Solar Impulse plane, in the panels on 12 March.

California State Aerospace Week was sponsored by AIAA, NASA, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, Solar Impulse and Lockheed Martin Corporation.