What is National Aerospace Week?

National Aerospace Week spans the second week of September. Launched by the Aerospace Industries Association in 2010, National Aerospace Week is a way to applaud the aerospace and defense industry’s contributions to the US economy and its ability to compete across the globe.

The aerospace industry took off on December 17, 1903, when American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the world’s first successful airplane off a hill in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. However, it would take decades for the industry to fully spread its wings. 

Airplane technology evolved throughout the World Wars, and wouldn’t be equipped with the right technology for commercial passenger travel until the 1950s, when innovations in radio, radar, pressurized air cabins, and the invention of the jet engine had finally combined to make the airline industry possible. Now, humans crisscross the planet on airplanes all the time. As of 2019, the worldwide commercial airline industry was estimated to be about U.S. $28 billion dollars, though it has recently seen declines in customers due to the COVID19 pandemic. 

In July 1969, the aerospace industry reached another soaring milestone when Apollo 11 became the first successful mission to land safely on the moon. The mission was possible thanks to the massive Saturn V rocket, which was about as high as a 36-story building and weighed a staggering 2.8 million kilograms.

The Apollo program, which successfully sent six manned missions to the moon, did much more than propell humans into space: It sparked an array of modern inventions sold for commercial use today, including camera phones, scratch-resistant lenses, CAT scans, LEDs, water purification systems, portable computers, baby formula, ear thermometers, dust busters, home insulation, memory foam, wireless headsets, and even sneakers. The list goes on and on!

Want to celebrate the National Aerospace Week? Use the hashtag #AeroWeek on Twitter. Do you want students to build and launch a rocket made out of a soda bottle and powered with an air pump and consider the forces on a rocket, Newton’s Laws, and other principles and challenges of actual space vehicle launch? Download the IEEE TryEngineering lesson plan Water Rocket Launch.