WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — From the Air Capital to the Space Capital, Wichita is making a play to diversify its workforce. Tuesday, Kansas Sen.Jerry Moran and SpaceX visited several manufacturing facilities to make it happen.
Many gathered at the B-29 Doc Hangar to hear from SpaceX, Senator Moran, and the Greater Wichita Partnership.
Sen. Moran said that increasing the depth of the aerospace industry in Wichita and Kansas will strengthen the state’s talent, supply chain, and economy. He is working to make SpaceX the next company to do business in the Sunflower State.
“Wichita and Kansas have to work to maintain that status, and again investing in businesses and industries of the future space is a great example we can continue to be the air capital of the world,” said Sen. Moran. He added, “Let’s see if we can help to diversify the economy in our state and increase the amount of defense work that is done here and increase the amount of space work that is done here.”
SpaceX is working to put more Starlink satellites into orbit to provide high-speed internet to rural areas of Kansas and the world.
The company is also looking to launch more rockets, such as Starship, this year.
“It’s a stainless-steel machine, so lots of machining, metalworking, processing, finishing, integration work,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX.
State and city leaders feel Wichita and Kansas have the tools and employees for SpaceX to manufacture parts for those satellites and rockets.
“It diversifies those contracts with our supply chain,” said Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple.
“We used to maybe criticized about no traffic, great schools, low cost of living, all of the sudden that is resonating as we come out of covid, and we are just in the right spot right now,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner.
Many are hopeful this is an economic lift-off for the Air Capital of the world.
“It’s a perfect asset to add to what people in Kansas do for a living,” said Sen. Moran.
The Starlink satellites are already in space.
SpaceX currently serves about 6,000 Kansans bringing high-speed internet to rural areas.
Shotwell said it’s important to continue that work and manufacture the satellites because it can help rural communities access things like telemedicine.