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After the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this weekend, the NASA Administrator stopped by Wichita this week to say the Air Capital is a big part of the future.

“Make sure that America continues to lead in aeronautics,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Bridenstine explained that aviation is a $151 billion export market for the United States, supporting an $88 billion trade surplus.

Bridenstine spoke at the WSU Tech National Center for Aviation Training Monday to talk about the past and the future. He says composites work in Wichita is a key to the future of not just space travel but the U.S. economy.

“The big thing here in Wichita is material sciences and aero structures,” said Bridenstine. “I know that with support from the government, public-private partnership, Spirit AeroSystems is changing the way they do manufacturing of composites.”

The NASA chief was met by U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kansas. Moran said he was thrilled to see leaders from SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Lockheed Martin in town for the event called Next Giant Leap.

Senator Moran said the event was the perfect showcase for Wichita and Kansas.

“The step that we are pursuing aggressively today is the presence of Lockheed (Martin) the presence of ULA, the presence of SpaceX,” said Senator Moran. “To make sure that the private sector, in addition to Government and particularly defense, knows the capabilities of Kansans and what assets exist here in the biggest city of our state.”

Moran and the NASA Administrator both talked about composites work being done in Wichita.

Bridenstine said composite pioneering work can help with the next phase of manufacturing. And, he says, Wichita and Kansas are on top of the pack for next generation manufacturing.

“Fifty years into the future, what will the market look like? How do we maintain our lead?” asked Bridenstine.

A panel talked about the future composite work and how it will help make planes more efficient. Other work done in Wichita will help make planes that act as air taxis from city to city across the country. And some composite work on aircraft could innovate ways to deliver packages from businesses like Fed Ex and Amazon.

“Urban air mobility is the future,” said Bridenstine. “How do we get communities partnered?”

Moran says the Wichita workforce will play a key role along with developing technologies like cell towers that are compatible with aircraft that can deliver not only people but packages quickly.

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