This is the centennial year for Boeing. For a hundred years, the company has been involved in aviation and other pursuits in war and peace. Boeing became a major part of the aerospace scene in Huntsville in 1962. By the end of the 60's some 4,500 people were working at Boeing, and most of them were working on the Saturn 5 moon rocket, or other aspects of the lunar mission. When astronauts drove the Lunar Rover on the moon, Boeing workers smiled, because they helped develop it.
"It's, uh...I guess I'll keep it simple. It's really cool," that's was long time Boeing worker Mike Swenson says about his 41 year career at Boeing. He started with the company when he was in high school, working at the B-52 plant in Wichita, Kansas. That was just his first project with the company. He's been in Huntsville since 1997, and that's where he got involved with his favorite Boeing project, the International Space Station. "The complexity of what we've done to get all those things in orbit safely through the shuttle. Through what we've built here...astronauts on orbit the last... almost 20-years," says Swenson.
The Space Shuttle Mike mentioned was another project on which Boeing's Huntsville operation had a significant impact. Another would be the Ground Based Mid Course Defense, the GMD anti-missile system. Boeing Huntsville helped develop it, and helps manage it right now. "Those missiles that we have that are in Alaska, and Vandenberg (Air Force Base). People don't understand that those are defending our nation every day," says Swenson.
There is no denying Boeing's heritage either defense or in America going to space. It's a hundred years for the whole company, and 54 packed years in north Alabama.