Michigan working hard to carve out role in next space race

Michigan to develop office for aerospace and defense collaboration

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – Slowly, and very quietly, over the last couple of years, Michigan has worked its way into a vital national conversation. Earlier this year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a proclamation setting the wheels in motion for the state to develop an office for aerospace and defense collaboration.

Now, state officials are working with nonprofit organizations to make the program blossom. It’s going to take a lot of work to get there, but there’s an effort by a large group of nonprofits and a couple of legislators to bring billions of dollars and new jobs to Michigan.

Michigan will have a place in the next space race, because in Washington last week, Upper Peninsula satellite rocket launches were green lighted for the old Kincheloe Air Base.

A couple of months ago, the same happened for the old Wurtsmith Air Base in Oscoda for a plate fleet to launch tiny satellites into low earth orbit.

Adjutant Gen. Paul Rodgers, of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said this is very serious business.

“We must be able to compete on the national state and attract investment here so that everything Michigan has can be leveraged for national security,” Rodgers said.

For example, autonomous vehicles will need 5G wireless to work, and since Chinese 5G is considered unsafe by the U.S. government, the satellites they’ll launch should provide safe coverage, according to Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association President Gavin Brown.

“The systems we’re working with will enable autonomous vehicles to work throughout the country,” Brown said.

Michigan is also trying to win a space command headquarters in Warren. It should be determined by the middle of next year whether Michigan wins that nationwide competition, which would complete the best-case scenario.

Michigan’s rich pool of engineers and skilled tradespeople is part of the allure for companies that will be launching satellites. Billions of dollars are expected to be invested, and thousands of jobs will be created, officials said.

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