Image: China Lake, CA Embry-Riddle Worldwide
Eastern Kern County is home to some of the most innovative and specialized technologies in the world. The region’s aerospace programs stand at the forefront of an industry gaining international recognition for space tourism and the first-ever privately-funded spaceflight, while the area’s defense and advanced weapons development is fostered by two military installations. The region’s aerospace and defense employment is four times the national average!
The aerospace and defense industries provide almost 20,000 high-wage full-time jobs for Kern County’s residents. These jobs have staying power thanks to vast open land, lack of development encroachment, proximity to Los Angeles, and higher education levels per capita in East Kern than in most other regions in the country.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) honored the Mojave Air and Space Port as the first facility certified in the U.S. for horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft. Kern County also made history as SpaceShipOne became the first privately funded, built and manned spacecraft to rocket into space and win the $10 million Ansari X-Prize. The spacecraft, designed by famed aerospace engineer Burt Rutan, garnered attention from celebrity billionaire, Sir Richard Branson, who then invested millions in space tourism in eastern Kern County.
Mojave Air and Space Port is the “hub” of all aerospace activity in Kern County and maintains worldwide importance. It provides an innovation-driven environment for aerospace research, design, and manufacturing companies making their mark on the industry.
Business of Nationwide Importance in Kern’s Backyard
Two military installations are based in eastern Kern County: the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base.
China Lake is the Navy’s largest single landholding in the world. It represents 85% of the Navy’s land for research, development, tests, and evaluations use, and 40% of the Navy’s land holdings worldwide. As weapons development continues, China Lake consistently adds jobs, both military and civilian.
Edwards Air Force Base covers roughly 470 square miles and houses roughly 12,800 jobs at the Air Force Flight Test Center. Among its many military purposes, Edwards historically provided a landing-place for NASA spaceships coming back from space exploration when weather did not permit landings in Florida.
Companies in Kern County’s Aerospace Industry