On Thursday, December 9, 2010, Gary Ervin, Corporate Vice President and President, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector, addressed Town Hall L.A. on the importance of the aerospace industry in California. Below are his remarks.

The Importance of the Aerospace Industry in California

It's great to be here today with everybody. It's a wonderful opportunity and honor to speak at Town Hall Los Angeles. Town Hall LA has been providing a forum for open disclosure and frank discourse and discussion over the last 70 years. We share those same values at Northrop Grumman, developing and building cutting-edge technology and systems, demanding diversity of ideas, opinions and backgrounds. No one person has all the answers, so speaking at Town Hall L.A. is personally gratifying to me, especially since I'm a native Angelino.

I was born in Northridge in the San Fernando Valley. I attended El Camino High School at the west end of the valley, and then went to UCLA as a baseball player, and I am a longtime Dodger fan. My wife, the same thing. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley, she was born in Burbank. We met in high school, at El Camino High School, and she went to Cal State Northridge. My parents grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and they both went to Canoga Park High School. You can see a theme here recurring. So, I've spent my entire career in California, and raised my family here.

So, the future of the aerospace industry is particularly important to me, and it means a great deal to me, and I want to talk a little about that as we're going forward. I'd also like to welcome the students from North Hollywood High School and the Crenshaw High School magnet program. It's great that you guys are here. I think you'll be interested in some of the things I'm talking about and the excitement of working in the aerospace industry.

Both my parents actually worked in aerospace as well, which is what got me interested in and excited about the aerospace industry as a kid. I watched my parents as I grew up and saw all the things they did, and it became something that was natural for me to go ahead and migrate to. So it's important, I think it's great, I like talking at events like this to our young students, because you guys will be the future in our industry. I think it's important to reach out, because there is a shortage of skilled engineers. It's important that we go out and talk in the schools and develop that interest in STEM — science, technology, engineering, mathematics. It's very important, because there are some great, very exciting jobs that are out there. We have many challenges ahead of us in aerospace, and so it's important that we have the best and brightest working on those challenges.

I'd also like to take a second and acknowledge the servicemen and women engaged in conflict overseas. California's contribution to these efforts should be noted, and that California is home to about 21 percent of all U.S. military personnel, including active duty, civilian support and the reserves. Unfortunately, over 600 warfighters from California have given their lives in the current conflicts, which is more than any other state. So our involvement and our contributions have been significant.

Today, I'll speak about the importance of aerospace, particularly to California, and then look at some of the innovative trends defining our industry. That will outline what's in front of you. Before I do that, I'd like to give you a quick overview of Northrop Grumman, so that those of you that don't know who we are will become a little familiar with what we do. Northrop Grumman will do over $33 billion in sales this year, and we’re continuing to grow. We have 120,000 employees working in all 50 states and in 25 countries. We have a backlog of $64 billion at the end of last quarter, a pretty significant amount of work.

We're organized into five sectors: Aerospace Systems, which is the sector that I run, Electronic Systems, Information Systems, Technical Services and Shipbuilding. So, there's a wide array of things we're engaged in. Some of you may have heard that our corporate office is moving to Washington D.C. next year. I'm here to tell you that move reflects just the corporate headquarters, so only about 100 people are going to be moving. The importance of the move is having proximity to our customers, which helps make us more competitive, which ultimately helps protect our programs and jobs, which helps us grow our business here in California. It’s a very good strategic move for us. So, when you hear the corporation is leaving, you're all familiar with the Defense Department and where Capitol Hill is. We're going to be right there in the heart of that defending our programs.

Even with the move, Northrop Grumman remains the largest aerospace defense company in California. We have 30,000 employees across the state. Our business footprint is in 22 different counties. The California economic impact is about $7.4 billion associated with what we do. That's $2.8 billion in direct payroll and $4.6 billion in contracts we do with some 5,500 suppliers in the state of California.

Our connection to California has very deep roots. You can say California is in our DNA. Jack Northrop started the company that became the modern Northrop Grumman back in 1939 in Hawthorne, Calif. At the time, we were most well-known for the flying wing, the development of stealth technology and the B-2 program. Claude Ryan started Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego in the 1930s. It was acquired by Northrop in 1999 and remains an essential part of our unmanned systems business that I'm going to spend a little time talking about, because it's pretty exciting, the work that's ongoing in unmanned systems. Ryan is most well-known for the modern unmanned air systems like Global Hawk, Fire Scout, unmanned combat air systems for the Navy that we're doing, a Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program for the Navy, and aerial targets, all of which are unmanned systems.

Simon Ramo was the “R” in TRW. It was founded in the 1950s in Space Park in Redondo Beach, and they built up through the '60s, and they're most well-known for the ICBMs, space satellites and payloads, microelectronics and system engineering. They're now part of my sector in Aerospace Systems.

Let me give you a little bit of an overview of Northrop Grumman aerospace systems and the connection to California. As I mentioned, I lead our Aerospace Systems sector. We're unique in that we combine our airplane side of the business together with the space side of the business into a singular organization. We have unmanned systems like Global Hawk; we have the manned aircraft program like the B-2; we have military space systems that do intelligence-gathering, perform missile defense and are also involved in communications. We have civil space systems for environmental monitoring and space science missions like the James Webb Space Telescope. Again, I'm going to talk a little bit more about it, because it's really an amazing satellite that we're in the process of building right now. We do directed energy systems, mainly focused right now on laser technology, and we're pressing the state of the art in lasers. We've made a megawatt chemical laser’ we've done 100 kilowatt solid-state laser. This is part of the technology we continue to push. We have missile systems, we're responsible for keeping our nation's ICBM fleet up and current, we do micro-electronics, and we build the world's fastest computer chips. Most people wouldn't think that in my sector we have a microelectronics foundry. Microelectronics becomes the brains of many of the advanced systems that we build.

Aerospace Systems comprises the largest part of Northrop Grumman's presence in the state. We have 18,000 people here in the state as part of my sector. We have over 16,000 employees here in the L.A. County area. It's a mix of engineering, research and development, manufacturing and business functions. And these are all very good, high-paying jobs that are very exciting in the technologies you work on and things you get to do. And these jobs can't be outsourced, because they're involved in national security for the most part. We have a facility up in Palmdale that's our major production facility. We have around 3,000 employees up there. We do final assembly of the Global Hawk vehicle and do systems integration work up there.

We manufacture a section of the F-35 program for the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin. We have the B-2; we do the depo maintenance work up there as well as new technology insertion into the B-2. We have the unmanned combat air systems demonstrator program we're building for the Navy right now. We're building two demonstrators. They're going to demonstrate unmanned technology getting on and off the deck of an aircraft carrier.

And Scaled Composites — some of you may have heard of Scaled Composites — is part of my sector. They're doing SpaceShipTwo, and I'm going to talk a little bit about that as well. So, we are involved with a lot of exciting things. And in El Segundo, just south of LAX, we have about 5,000 employees. We have the longest all-wooden building in the world, constructed in 1942 to build the Douglas Dive Bomber. Today, it houses a thoroughly modern production line. It’s there we manufacture the center and aft fuselage section of the F/A-18 for our prime contractor the Boeing Company.

We produce about 54 airplanes there a year. You can start at one end of the line and see all the raw material, and at the far end of the building you'll see an F-18 coming out, basically once every four-and-a-half days.

In Rancho Bernardo, we have about 2,200 employees. We do a lot of system engineering for all of our work in unmanned aerial systems that I mentioned earlier. And then our headquarters is in Space Park in Redondo Beach. It's the center of where our space business is, and we have about 8,000 employees in that location who do engineering, manufacturing, system engineering, space systems, satellite payloads, sensors as part of our Space Systems Division. We do civil, military, and national security programs, and I mentioned the world-class microelectronics facility.

So, let me talk a little bit about the nationwide economic impact of the aerospace industry to the nation. This is broader, all the way across the country, not just the Northrop Grumman piece. Other industries in L.A. may get a lot more attention, like finance or Hollywood or the Internet, but aerospace is a large, highly competitive industry with major impact on our national economy. Many people believe the problem with the American economy is that we don't build things anymore and don't export enough. Well, aerospace is an exception to that. Aerospace sales are spread across a diverse set of product lines. Here's a series of statistics we get form the AIA [Aerospace Industries Association], which I think are pretty interesting. In 2009, the total aerospace sales across the nation were about $214 billion. If I break that down, civil aircraft was about $83 billion, military aircraft was about $62 billion, missile systems was about $15 billion, space was about $40 billion, and other related products are about $15 billion. So, you can see the extent of the impact of aerospace on our national economy.

Aerospace is also a major provider of exports, and supplier of very good jobs. So the exports, if you look at that, about $81 billion last year in aerospace exports. This creates a positive trade balance of about $56 billion. That's amazing when you start thinking about it. There are not many industries that can say that. The employment, aerospace and defense employs about 800,000 workers nationwide, and this industry supports about 2 million middle-class jobs in related fields that support the direct aerospace jobs. Over 30,000 suppliers in all 50 states support aerospace.

California's at the core of America's aerospace industry. All the tier-one companies have a major presence here — Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon. Also, we have a very strong supplier presence located here in this state. Thousands of smaller companies are subcontractors to these large companies. This critical mass of companies promotes knowledge transfer and innovation. We also have an outstanding higher education system that provides a pipeline of skilled workers, most notably my alma mater UCLA down the street here and that other school across the town, USC. We have University of California Santa Barbara, my wife's alma mater at Cal State University Northridge, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where we recruit at a lot. Both my kids went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. And, of course, there’s Cal Tech. And there are numerous other schools, but you get the sense of what's available here just in the Southern California area.

Also, there are more NASA centers here than any other state. We have the Ames Research Center, the Dryden Flight Research Center in the Antelope Valley and the Jet Propulsion Lab over in Pasadena. We have several Air Force bases that support research and development and testing, including Edwards Air Force Base and Vandenberg, where the 14th Air Force do a lot of the satellite work. There’s L.A. Air Force Base, where the Space and Missile Systems Center is located. There’s Air Force Plant 42, Beale Air Force Base up in Northern California where our Global Hawks are deployed from. So again, you can start to see the major aerospace presence just in our state of California.

Let's look at the aerospace industry's economic impact in California. The industry has contracted since its height in the 1980s, but remains large and vital. Different sources cut the numbers different ways, but let me give you a sense of how the California aerospace industry is a major economic driver. In 2009, the industry supported over 112,000 jobs. According to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, 2009 direct aerospace employment in L.A. County was 37,000 jobs, over 10,000 in Orange County, almost 6,000 in San Diego, and California exported some $6.9 billion worth of aerospace products in 2009.

Let me say a little bit about the political and economic factors affecting the future of the industry. The next decade promises to be challenging due to the economic and political uncertainty. The federal government is the largest buyer of aerospace and defense products, and the deficit is a major concern. You're all aware of the deficit. It's about 60 percent of the GDP today, and it's projected to be almost 100 percent by 2020. Defense Secretary Gates hopes to achieve $100 billion in efficiencies over the next five years. They're going to have very modest growth in the DoD budget, productivity growth — so in other words, they're trying to do more without more. That’s how it's phrased. The DoD is strongly stressing affordability, so that's a big part in all the things that we're doing. The DoD is moving to more fixed-price contracts, which puts more of the risk and burden on the contractors, and that flows down to all of our suppliers. And unfortunately, we're going to see cancelation of major programs. We've already seen the C-17 and the F-22 programs recently cancelled.

Recent deficit commissions have suggested further cuts. These are far from law right now, but there are several being looked at as the DoD budget continues to face additional downward pressure. The Simpson-Bowles Presidential Debt Reduction Commission wants to cut an additional $100 billion from defense. They want to cut 15 percent from the arms purchases, as well as another 10 percent cut in the research and development, and most likely they'll recommend further cuts of existing programs. There's also the Rivlin-Domenici Debt Reduction Task Force that basically says we're going to keep defense spending flat, freeze it basically for the next five years. They have plans to reduce some programs to save $1.1 trillion just from defense to help reduce the deficit. So, a lot of pressure is being put on the aerospace industry.

Another issue to consider is the 2010 elections. We had over 60 new members of the House and six new senators. Now, many of these legislators don't have familiarity with the aerospace industry. Part of our job is to make sure they understand the importance of aerospace to the overall economy and for our national defense.

The presidential election in two years will create additional uncertainty. Now, the world still remains a very dangerous place, regardless of the deficit. Terrorism is still a major concern, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have the recent issues you've seen about with North Korea; Pakistan is unstable; there's nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation; and the Chinese defense spending continues to grow as their economy grows. So, our industry is ready to work with the government, but we have to be careful. There's a great risk in cutting the defense budget for deficit reduction.

In October, our CEO, Wes Bush, spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., and I'd like to briefly summarize a few of his remarks that he made that I think you’ll find relevant. He talked about the need to do thoughtful reductions. Industry and government must work together to make focused decisions on which weapons systems the nation needs, and make sure we maintain the ability to design and build them. He also went on to say there's no substitute for actually building things. We need to maintain investments and research development in advanced programs. Advanced programs attract talented engineers and help maintain the critical skills necessary for our industry. Without adequate investment, the industrial base will atrophy. Right now's a critical time because about 50 percent of the defense, engineering and manufacturing work force is nearing retirement. The industrial base has always been more about people and innovation than just facilities and production. Technology innovation must be preserved. Once lost, it's very costly and difficult to restart.

Now, I'd like to discuss innovation in the aerospace industry. That was a little depressing, what we talked about there, but there's a lot of great things going on, and I'll give you a sense of some of the interesting things taking place in both the air and space side of the business. Many companies, particularly in California, are pushing the edge of the envelope, and that competition helps keep everybody sharp. I'll focus on some of the Northrop Grumman things, mention a few others, but I'm most familiar obviously with all the Northrop Grumman programs.

I mentioned unmanned aerial systems. They're probably the most dynamic growth sector in the aerospace industry over this past decade. The Teal Group estimates that global spending on unmanned air systems to be about $80 billion over the decade. This includes platforms, payloads, ground stations, research and development, the entire system, because you don't think about these just as an individual airplane. The U.S. will account for about 76 percent of the research and development spending in the next decade, and about 58 percent of the procurement in this area. About 40 nations are expressing interest in carrying out their own unmanned air systems development. Since the U.S. is the leader, there are great opportunities for export. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan drove the development. We saw rapid growth from almost no operational unmanned air systems in combat zones 10 years ago to over 7,000 flying today. By January, the U.S. Air Force estimates that the UAS will have logged over a million hours in combat air patrols over war zones.

Let me describe a little bit about the advantages of unmanned air systems to the warfighter. Obviously, without a pilot in them, they can be more inclined to do the dangerous jobs to keep pilots out of harm's way. They're very cost-effective; they can fly much longer missions. A Global Hawk will stay up in the air for a day and a half. Most pilots don't like to fly a mission that long, especially in a single-seat cockpit. So, they are very cost-effective, because you can do more with less. Unmanned air systems are about more than just the vehicle, though, it's about the system. It's about sensors, software, ground stations that enable a range of capabilities such as providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The communications relay, they can provide their own personal satellite that you can fly and put where you need to have it. We developed vertical unmanned air systems for cargo and other mission resupply, and we're developing unmanned air systems for strike capability.

Once the Joint Strike Fighter, which is a manned aircraft, completes testing, America will not have any large-scale manned aircraft design programs under development. There's some suspicion that the proposed long-range strike aircraft may have both manned and unmanned capabilities, so it could be optionally manned, dependent upon the mission. Developing a strike unmanned air system is already a reality. Soon, we're going to celebrate the first flight of one of the most innovative unmanned air systems today. It's called the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator for the United States Navy. It's going to demonstrate that an unmanned, tailless airplane can take on and off the deck of an aircraft carrier. That’s amazing when you start thinking about it. The carrier deck is one of the most challenging ad complicated environments to operate manned aircraft, let alone an unmanned aircraft. The UCAS-D assembly and testing is taking place up in Palmdale. The air frame is similar to what a B-2 flying wing looks like, but a little bit smaller.

Despite all the progress made in unmanned systems in the last decade, we still have much work to do. This is a great field for young engineers, because we are at the very early stage of unmanned air system development. Challenges go beyond the platform and payload. I'm talking about commonality and interoperability with manned systems. This can drive ease of use and cost-effectiveness in our overall system. We need to develop sense and avoid capabilities so that the unmanned air systems can meet the air worthiness standards necessary to fly in the national air space with other manned systems. And we need to find better ways to manage the massive amount of data provided by unmanned aerial systems when they do intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and send all that information down to the ground stations.

California is the center of the unmanned air system universe. It's a very competitive industry, and it drives innovation. Smaller companies like General Atomics and AeroEnvironment deliver products as well as the larger companies like Northrop Grumman. These products vary in size and mission. AeroEnvironment has a small unmanned air vehicle they call Raven that has a 55-inch wingspan. It can be launched by hand, and goes about six miles and goes to 10,000 feet, and provides information back to the ground. It's a great system. The General Atomics Predator has about a 50-foot wingspan and flies at about 20,000 (feet) and can perform missile strikes. And the Global Hawk, which is our high-altitude long-endurance system, has 131-foot wingspan and flies for over 30 hours at altitudes of up to 60,000 feet, well above all the commercial air traffic. That's twice as high as a commercial airliner.

I'd like to expand a little bit about the Global Hawk unmanned air system for a few minutes, because it powerfully demonstrates the innovation and evolution of the program. It was developed in San Diego in the 1990s. The system engineering work was done in Rancho Bernardo. The final assembly is done up in Palmdale, the flight test is out at Edwards Air Force Base, and it's stationed at Beale Air Force Base in Northern California. So you can see it encompasses all of California. Global Hawk is doing things the original designers never dreamed of.

The initial prototypes were rushed into service in 2001 and provided support in Afghanistan, and Global Hawk has been working hard ever since. It's flown more than 36,000 combat hours and can see through all types of weather, day or night. Today, Global Hawk has evolved and can carry out a multitude of mission for a variety of different customers. We have various blocks of the Global Hawk. Block 10 is being used by both the Air Force and Navy in performing missions overseas today. They also flew in support of the firefighters when we had the wildfires in Southern California back in 2007. In January of this year, Global Hawks flying out of Beale were diverted to provide support over Haiti just hours after the earthquake. It was one of the first U.S. assets on-station, and it was instrumental in assessing the damage and directing the efforts of our rescue workers.

Block 20s, the next generation in the evolution, serves as a broad-area communications node. The Block 30s focus on signal intelligence. It'll be flown by the U.S. Air Force, and it will replace the U-2 program. In September, we deployed the first Block 30s to Guam and Sigonella Naval Air Station in Italy. Also we have the Euro Hawk, which was developed for EADS, for the German Ministry of Defense. It's the first international version of Global Hawk. The Block 40s, the next gen after that, is being built for the U.S. as well as for the NATO airborne ground surveillance program that's underway, which is going to support 15 different NATO nations. And the Air Force is going to fly that version of it with advanced radar to do ground surveillance.

There's a variant for the Navy called BAMS, which stands for Broad Area Maritime Surveillance, that's being developed, and it provides specific intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance needs. The fuselage is just starting production. The first operational flight will take place in 2012. And what's great is there are tremendous opportunities for synergies between the BAMS program and the Air Force Global Hawk program.

NASA also has a couple Global Hawks. An early version of the Global Hawk is being used for science missions. It's operated out of the Dryden Flight Research Center in the Antelope Valley. In 2012, NASA’s Global Hawks are going to be the first UAS to in-flight refuel another UAS, which is pretty cool when you start thinking about that. That's some of the technology challenges we're working. The NASA Global Hawk has also has flown several missions over the Pacific and the Atlantic to study the evolution of tropical storms to see how they turn into hurricanes. When you fly at 65,000 feet, you're above all that. NASA did a series of mission called GloPac earlier this year to study the chemistry of the atmosphere over parts of the Pacific and the Arctic. The instruments on Global Hawk were calibrated with NASA’s Aura satellite that was built by Northrop Grumman in our Redondo Beach facility.

Let me say a few words about innovation and air/space integration. GloPac served as a great example of increasing the integration of air and space together. Space and air assets are increasingly dependent upon one another, because the migrations of the mission and technology can transition between the two. If you think about a Global Hawk as a low-flying satellite, it gives you a sense of what you can do and have your own personal satellite with a Global Hawk.

So, bringing people together under a single company, and how we're organized for expertise in both these areas, is not the norm in our industry. At Aerospace Systems, we can combine both the airplane and space side of the business. We know that people drive innovation, so having people who have that knowledge of both the air and space side coming together is going to have future significant potential for us as an organization.

Now, I'll speak a little bit about some of the innovation trends in space. Space remains the ultimate high ground. It's out of sight, but remains essential to both our economy and our national security. Think today about GPS satellites. Both the military and civilian GPS navigation — I don't know about you, but my wife tells me I can't find anything without my GPS system in the car. Google Earth is another one that relies upon our satellites. Satellite communications, think about satellite TV; our ATM machines rely on satellites.

Military operations are obviously highly dependent upon satellites. Missile warning is just one of those important military capabilities that depend upon satellites. There’s a missile warning program called the Defense Support Program, or DSP, whose satellites were built at our facility in Space Park. It recently celebrated the 40th year on orbit, this year. The Space Based Infrared Satellite System is going to be coming online soon as the successor to the DSP program. The Space Tracking and Surveillance Satellite System is operating in orbit today for the Missile Defense Agency. This is one of the key components of the overall U.S. missile defense system. Weather satellites, both military operators and our economic livelihood, are highly dependent upon accurate data provided by weather satellites. I don't know about you, but I check the weather every morning. Where do you think they get that information? Much of it comes from satellites. Then there are climate-monitoring satellites. These measure long-term atmospheric trends extended over a long period of time rather than just the weather satellites looking at a particular day. Aqua is one of NASA’s Earth Observing Systems, which studies the Earth's water cycle, and that was built at our Space Park facility.

Climate change is driving the need for even more data. Climate monitoring from space helps us understand what is happening with our world’s climate.

Another important mission for satellites is space-based situational awareness. With so many objects circling the Earth, there's a great need to understand and track what's out there. Last year, an Iridium communication satellite and an out-of-service Russian military satellite collided. And what that created was about 700 pieces of debris travelling at 7,000 miles an hour. You kind of like to know where that debris is located. So, the first Pathfinder space-based surveillance system satellite was launched this September.

And California is the center of some very exciting trends in space innovation, particularly when it comes to civil and commercial space. I'd like to mention a few of those companies. First SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif., is developing the two first-stage Falcon 9 rockets to carry cargo to the International Space Station. The first successful launch took place in June of this year from Cape Canaveral. And yesterday, a Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon Capsule to carry people to space for the first time, and it marks a new era in commercial space travel.

Another innovative company is Virgin Galactic in Mojave, Calif. Virgin Galactic is developing the world's first commercial manned space tourism business for suborbital flight. Scaled Composites, which again is part of our sector, is contracted by Virgin Galactic to design and build both the mother ship — which is called White Knight Two. White Knight Two will carry and launch SpaceShipTwo — the actual spacecraft — up into orbit. Both aircraft are unique designs made from composite materials. They can carry heavy payloads, around 35,000 pounds, to high altitude — 40,000, 50,000 feet — and then it has a maximum range of about 2,000 nautical miles. SpaceShipTwo when can carry two pilots and six tourists up to 68 miles above the Earth so you can experience zero gravity for nearly five minutes. There's a long line of people waiting for that to happen.

This October, we marked a major milestone with the first piloted free-flight of SpaceShipTwo. The mother ship took it up to 45,000 feet and let it go unpowered, let it coast down, to check out the handling qualities of the vehicle. The time is coming when space tourism will be a reality.

Space science is another area where innovation and ideas are placing us at the heart of things here in California. Northrop Grumman is actively pushing the boundaries of space innovation, as evidenced by two very different types of space missions.

The first one I'll talk about is LCROSS. Some of you may have heard about LCROSS, which stands for the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. This mission proves the point that innovation isn't just about cutting-edge technology; it's also about using existing technologies in innovative ways. LCROSS is a great example of that. It was a secondary mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. So, this was a mission of opportunity. There was extra room in the launch vehicle for the LRO, so NASA requested bids from industry for something that would be a scientifically significant mission that could be executed on a fast pace and a very tight budget.

We provided the spacecraft design, construction, system engineering and all the prime contractor elements to NASA Ames Research Center. They oversaw the mission and had responsibility for the science payload as well. The mission objective was to confirm the presence of water ice on the permanently shadowed crater of the moon's South Pole. The major innovation of the LCROSS team was turning the payload adapter — it's just a ring that would separate two different payloads in a stack — they turned that payload adaptor into an actual spacecraft. Typically, when it goes up, you launch one satellite, you launch another, and the ring ends up being space junk. The LCROSS team turned that structure into a spacecraft. And we sent it toward the moon. And the concept was ready to fly in just 29 months for $79 million, which is remarkable when you consider the cost of doing things in space today.

LCROSS launched in June of 2009 and impacted the moon on Oct. 9, 2009. The mission achieved the scientific objective to determine the presence of water ice in a lunar crater at the South Pole. The impact ejected almost 200 pounds of water ice off the surface of the moon, and we were able to detect it through a variety of means. Since that time, NASAs looked at all the data and realized that the amount of water ice detected was significantly more than originally thought. So, it was a very successful mission. I've got to tell you, I was at our Space Park Auditorium the day when we impacted the moon, and it was a very exciting time for all of us. In October of this year, Popular Mechanics provided the 2010 breakthrough award for superior innovation to the NASA Ames/Northrop Grumman LCROSS team.

Another innovative program is the James Webb Space Telescope. It's a one-of-a-kind engineering marvel that's assembled right here in Redondo Beach. The James Webb Space Telescope is the nation's No. 1 priority for astronomy and physics for this decade. It’s a major financial commitment — and it's worth it — because this telescope will help us understand the very formation of the universe. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center oversees the mission, and we're the prime contractor responsible for designing and building the telescope, deploying the sun shield and doing all the spacecraft integration. We also have companies like Ball Aerospace, ITT and ATK as partners.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a very large infrared telescope that's going to help us detect some of the very first stars that formed the galaxy just a few thousand years after the Big Bang. It will look back almost 13 billion years in time. It’ll look into the deepest space at objects that are 10 billion times as faint as the faintest stars visible without a telescope today. These stars will be 10 to 100 times fainter than anything that can be seen by the Hubble Telescope today. As you would suspect, this is an engineering challenge. This thing is a very massive structure. It's about 70 feet in size when fully deployed, but it has to be folded up into the tip of a rocket. So, you put that together, it has a five-part sunshield, because the goal of this thing is to make the satellite reflector receiver as cold as possible. So, this five-layered sunshield will prevent the sun from heating it up, and it's remarkable when you look at it. The sunshield is about the size of a tennis court, and it will make the satellite at about 45 degrees Kelvin, which is minus 378 degrees Fahrenheit, so pretty cold. So, start thinking about the material challenges associated with that.

The telescope’s primary mirror is a 6.5 meter in diameter mirror, which is also too big to fold into the rocket, so we have to make a mirror that’s segmented into 18 separate hexagons. To put this in perspective, the Hubble mirror's about 2.4 meters, and this is 6.5 meters in size. So, it has to be able to see the faintest stars. It's comprised again of the 18 hexagons of polished beryllium, and this is really trailblazing engineering. Even the large unfolding mirrors will be necessary for future missions. They're going to have a large payoff. So, all this has to be folded into the top of a rocket, launched a million miles from Earth and then deployed and oriented to start looking back. It's an amazing engineering accomplishment.

In April of this year, the telescope passed its mission-Critical Design Review, confirming the design and the hardware meet all the scientific objectives and plans going forward. I should point out that this is an international effort. The telescope will be put together right here in California but both the European and Canadian space agencies are a part of this.

I’ll end with some closing thoughts. It's easy to get focused on all amazing technology and forget that it's only as good as the people who conceive, develop, and build it. I mentioned earlier that the future of this industry depends upon inspiring young people to make the commitment to a career in aerospace. We took the scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope to New York last summer as a part of the World Science Festival, and it was amazing to see the reaction of all the people and the level of interest, particularly, from all the local schools. Northrop Grumman is not alone in its commitment to ensuring the next generations of students consider a career in aerospace. Our peers are no less active and enthusiastic in their STEM outreach. There's a lot of work that goes on with tutoring and mentoring, adopting a school, first robotics competitions. Many of our employees are involved in the schools, which I think is great, and it's very rewarding to be able to do that.

I need another hour to talk about all these efforts, but I'd like to mention just one before I close. The Da Vinci School, the charter school, sits almost exactly between El Segundo and Redondo Beach facilities. In the spirit of the school's namesake, Northrop Grumman partnered with them to build an innovation lab to foster project-based learning. It stresses collaboration, creativity, communication, computer proficiency and critical thinking. Our employees have volunteered hundreds of hours to the school in the form of mentoring, tutoring, software seminars. In October, we had 127 Da Vinci students come to our El Segundo campus for presentations and tours that highlighted the aircraft design and gave a sense of some of the things I talked about today.

Recently, the voters in the surrounding community approved a bond to build a new state-of-the-art high school campus that will house the innovation lab. So, we'd like to thank our neighbors for their foresight toward investing in education, even in these difficult economic times. And I thank all of you for coming today. Hopefully I've done my part to make you realize what an integral part the aerospace industry plays to the present and future of California, so thank you.

Reprinted by permission of TOWN HALL Los Angeles ©