On a recent episode of “Influencers Andy Serwer,” Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden reflected on space exploration and the aerospace industry’s bright future.
“Space is the most exciting area of our portfolio at the moment,” Warden told Yahoo Finance.
The U.S. aerospace industry saw serious challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, shrinking by 87,000 jobs and seeing total revenues drop 2.8% to $874 billion between 2019 and 2020, according to the most recent Aerospace Industries Association Facts and Figures Report.
Though it has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels of success, the global aerospace industry has recently turned a corner. It reported $712 billion in revenue in 2021, which is up 4% over 2020. It also reported $62 billion of operating profit, up 136% according to an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Northrop Grumman — an aeronautics, defense, and cyberspace company headquartered in Falls Church Virginia with origins in the 1930s — builds missiles, bomber aircrafts, and solid rocket boosters for NASA’s Space Launch program. The company has a long history of working with NASA. But since 2018 when it acquired aerospace firm Orbital ATK, the company’s space division has expanded. In the last quarter, space-related business accounted for over 30% of the company’s total sales.
“The expansion of opportunity in space has been significant, and I foresee that continuing into the future,” Warden remarked.
One of the company’s most significant products is the James Webb Telescope. Launched into space in December 2021, the telescope takes pictures of astronomical objects using infrared radiation. NASA released its first full-color images during a televised broadcast last July. The pictures, which went viral on social media, depicted part of Carina, a constellation of stars.
“In space exploration, like the work that we recently launched the James Webb Space Telescope. And it brought back, just fantastic images of the origins of our universe that will help to rewrite science textbooks,” Warden said. “And help, I hope, a new generation of people to get really excited about what may be happening in space in generations to come.”
This week, NASA released two new images taken by the James Webb Telescope. They show the Tarantula Nebula and could yield scientific discoveries about how stars form. The telescope will remain in space for another decade and continue to produce new images.
Dylan Croll is a reporter and researcher at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @CrollonPatrol.
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