Press Release

NASA: A Texas Institution with a Large Economic Impact

By SpaceRef Editor
September 12, 2019
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Full report

The Johnson Space Center (JSC) makes a $4.7 billion annual impact on the Texas economy and supports more than 52,000 jobs, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said today in a visit to the NASA facility as part of his Good for Texas Tour.

JSC currently operates three facilities in Texas covering nearly 1,700 acres. It’s the site of Mission Control, which manages manned space missions, including the International Space Station, and serves as training center for the agency’s 38 active astronauts and 11 astronaut candidates.

“NASA’s history is intertwined with Texas’ history, grit and can-do spirit, and NASA’s future in Texas will be crucial in building tomorrow’s Texas economy,” Hegar said. “JSC is an integral part of the Gulf Coast community, but the impacts of the center’s work can be found throughout the Lone Star State. In addition to the important contributions in aerospace and STEM-related sectors, JSC plays a critical role in fields as diverse as biomedical research, agriculture, education, tourism and a host of other business activities in Texas’ Gulf Coast and the state as a whole.”

In 2018, NASA’s Texas operations employed about 11,000, both directly and through private contractors. Of these, 96 percent held at least a bachelor’s degree and 43 percent held a master’s degree or higher. Seventy-five percent of NASA’s Texas workforce is employed in science, technical or aerospace work. JSC has 24 physicians/medical officers, 497 certified flight controllers, 23 astromaterials curators and research scientists (to study lunar and extraterrestrial samples) and even its own SWAT team.

Beyond the center’s direct employment, industries associated with JSC pay average wages two to three times higher than the average wage for all industries in Texas and the Gulf Coast region. Additionally, $189 million in JSC spending directly supported 163 small businesses in Texas in 2018 alone.

NASA’s economic initiatives include partnerships with research universities. In 2018, it provided approximately $31.1 million in grants to Texas public and private universities as well as affiliated research organizations; since 2010, the agency has awarded about $375 million in grants to Texas institutions.

Called “The Best Museum in Texas” by USA Today, JSC’s visitor center Space Center Houston is one of the state’s top tourist attractions, drawing an estimated 1.1 million visitors in 2018, with more than 725,000 of them from outside the state. Out-of-state visitors spend more than $150 million annually in Texas as a result of their visits to JSC, an amount that in turn generates about $10 million in sales and use, hotel and other state taxes.

NASA also plays a role in the Texas film industry. In 2018, NASA worked on more than 174 documentaries, 58 notable features and 15 feature films. JSC facilities provided a backdrop for film projects such as Apollo 13, Space Cowboys, First Man and The Martian.

Launch into the Comptroller’s economic impact study for a deep dive into how NASA operations help drive the Texas economy. View our media kit to download photos, videos and other resources that tell the story of space exploration and scientific discovery in Texas and beyond.

SpaceRef staff editor.