The U.S. economy continues to frustrate analysts and politicians alike as GDP grew at an unspectacular 2.1% annual rate between July and December. While it's a win that the nation is still experiencing further growth a decade into an economic expansion, 2.1% is nearly half the 4% that typifies a truly booming economy. The six-week long GM strike, Boeing's ongoing troubles, subpar manufacturing activity in general, and trade upheavals are all believed to play a part in hindering true economic momentum.
With the grounded Boeing 737 Max unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon, the aerospace giant is tying its hopes and future earnings to its new 777X. The wide-body aircraft and largest twin-engine jet ever built recently completed its maiden flight last Saturday. The model, an updated version of the 777 which debuted in 1995, can fit up to 426 passengers in a two-class configuration. Unfortunately, the plane has been beset by its own panoply of challenges. Orders have slowed as several airlines have opted for rival Airbus's long-haul, single aisle A321XLR. And regulators are expected to give extra scrutiny to the 777X in the wake of the fatal Max disasters.
Electric motor company Rivian Automotive, a startup backed by Amazon and Ford, will be manufacturing the “skateboard” platform for a premium, high-performance electric Ford vehicle, according to a recent announcement. The company manufactures platforms that are modular in design and include the vehicle's motor, battery pack, computer systems and wheels. All that's left is for the carmaker to pop on the frame, then install the interior and the automobile is ready to rock. In addition to building its own line of electric trucks, Rivian is also hard at work constructing a fleet of electric delivery vehicles for Amazon which should roll out in September 2021.
NASA has a five -point plan to open the International Space Station (ISS) to new commercial and marketing opportunities, including developing commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit – which is good news for Axiom Space. The Houston startup was selected by the space agency to supply at least one habitable commercial module that will be attached to the ISS. While it's not exactly a space hotel perse, the module might be used as accommodations for private astronauts arriving via Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon. It could also house experiments and technology development as well. It's anybody's guess how the addition will be put to use, but if Axiom does pull off the project, then NASA is expected to order a few more modules to the ever growing space station.
Hawthorne-based SpaceX is in talks with L.A. government officials to build its revolutionary rapidly reusable rocket Starship at a yet-to-be constructed manufacturing facility at the Port of Los Angeles. But don't get too excited just yet, Angelenos. The city had already given the aerospace firm approval for the project in 2018, only for Musk and company to ghost at the last minute.💔If the factory does indeed open this time, then it's estimated to bring some 300 jobs to the area. L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a huge fan of Musk, is gung-ho about SpaceX possibly setting up shop in his neck of the woods, saying that the move would help attract other innovators to the location.
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A bi-weekly roundup of the latest happenings in industrial tech, hiring and the future of work.