Commercial Space Launches Lift Aerospace-Related Sourcing


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This past week, SpaceX confirmed with the website Teslarati that it is on schedule to activate its south Texas launch site before the end of 2018. This update is exciting news in the aerospace industry, as SpaceX owner Elon Musk has suggested that its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas is under consideration as a testing site for a rocket to the planet Mars. When you think back to the original space race between the USA and the Soviet Union over 60 years ago, what we’re seeing today with private companies such as SpaceX entering space exploration is absolutely amazing.

On that note, sourcing activity in the Thomas Network at is showing some interesting trends in aerospace-related categories, and we’ll take a look at those in this week’s Thomas Index.

Sourcing activity for Aerospace Contract Manufacturing is up 13 percent year-over-year, it’s up 36 percent month-over-month, and over the past 12 weeks, it's up 17 percent above its historical average. This rise is a significant and steady upward trend in aerospace-related companies looking for manufacturers to make components or parts. 

Sourcing activity for Aircraft & Aerospace Machining is up 14 percent above its historical average over the past four weeks. Machining is closely related to contract manufacturing, as it is a process where the supplier cuts or shapes raw material into a part or component required by the customer. This service is a huge category in manufacturing, and an upward trend here specific to aerospace is a great indicator as to the strength of the industry.

Finally, sourcing for Aerospace Fasteners is up 10 percent over its historical average over the past four weeks. According to Markets and Markets, the global aerospace fasteners market is projected to be a 7.7 billion dollar market by 2021, so this is definitely a category to watch closely.

In a recent Thomas Index Report, we talked about how proposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum are impacting sourcing activity for U.S. suppliers at It’s important to keep in mind that the U.S. aerospace industry relies heavily on foreign aluminum, and it will be interesting to see how that impacts sourcing activity for domestic suppliers should the proposed tariffs go into effect. We’ve already seen some interesting activity in our network; sourcing activity for Aluminum Coils at is up 53 percent week-over-week – that is a huge jump in buyers looking for North American suppliers of aluminum.

Our data also shows that sourcing activity for steel – the other metal for which the Trump administration is suggesting steep tariffs – is up 24 percent month-over-month at As we reported a couple of weeks ago, this increase in sourcing activity for North American suppliers of aluminum and steel could be indicative of manufacturers lining up domestic sources before the proposed tariffs kick in and prices for foreign metals soar. 

Well, that’s what our data shows this week. If you’d like to stay in the know with what our Thomas Index reports each week, in addition to receiving relevant industry news each morning, sign up for our Thomas Industry Update at

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