The aerospace industry in the United States kick-started with the invention of the airplane by the Wright Brothers in 1903, and then boomed during the First and Second World Wars. Since then, the United States has become the largest investor in aerospace technology, personnel and resources in the world.
Aerospace products and technology comprise most all air- and space-bound vehicles and weapons, such as airplanes, missiles and rockets. The United States has a large industry of both consumer and military technologies, with products sold both domestically and internationally.
The primary consumers of aerospace products are the US Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), while the three largest aerospace manufacturers are Boeing, United Technologies Corporation and Lockheed Martin, all three of which are located in the United States. There are thousands of other companies that produce parts for aerospace needs and thousands of subcontractors. In 2007, there were 487,000 aerospace jobs in the country.
The aerospace industry technology is estimated at about $160 billion, but because much of this is dependent upon government spending, it fluctuates with yearly budgets. Variances in NASA investment and mission goals have provided aerospace companies with different technology targets, such as unmanned spacecraft. Additionally, with growing safety concerns post-9/11 and military interventions abroad, defense spending in the aerospace sector has grown in mean percentage real growth over the past several years.