LONG BEACH, Calif., 1 April 2014. Cargo and crew space transportation is “not an ‘economies of scale’ type of business. We’re looking at building 30 or 40 of something,” which doesn’t lend to lower costs for electronic components and subsystems, materials, and so on,” explains Arianespace President Clay Mowry during the keynote panel session at the Space Tech Conference in Long Beach, Calif.
A large supplier base also brings up the topic of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) in the U.S. Aerospace solutions fall under ITAR. Many lawmakers are concerned that with the expansion of the commercial aerospace community comes increased opportunity for U.S. technologies to fall into “the wrong hands.” Aerospace leaders such as those at SpaceX are not concerned, especially given that the company owns its systems and virtually all the necessary technologies.
SpaceX uses a number of suppliers, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell clarifies, but at a low level of integration. “We buy metal, wires, connectors, for example, but we build our own engines and develop our own software. We love our suppliers but we don’t want to have the availability, timing, quality, or cost of our systems affected by the vagaries of suppliers.” She and her SpaceX colleagues also “don’t want to be at the mercy of geo-political issues.”