Another reason I’m glad to be in the Constellation program

April 1st, 2008

Matt Sedensky of the AP says that the end of the Shuttle program could cost 8,000 jobs, almost all in the private sector:

More than 8,000 NASA contractor jobs in the nation’s manned space program could be eliminated after the space shuttle program is shut down in 2010, the agency said today.

The number of civil servants is expected to remain roughly the same, but dramatic job cuts are possible among private contractors as NASA transitions to the Constellation program, which is developing the next-generation vehicle and rockets to go to the moon and later to Mars.

Florida will be hit the hardest:

The bleakest forecast was issued for the flagship Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., where just 1,600 to 2,300 employees were expected to remain in 2011, a cut of up to 80 percent from its current 8,000 workers. The Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans was forecast to lose as many as 1,300 of its 1,900 jobs.

Houston is not going to get hit quite as hard, because many of the jobs that we do here are similar to jobs that will be required for Constellation, like flight planning and mission operations. Most of the jobs at KSC are very tightly tied to the Shuttle hardware and the craft itself. But we have a few people like that here in Houston.

I’m sure that many of the lost jobs will be those occupied by men and women already close to retirement, or already partially retired. I know a couple of people like that myself. But some of the jobs lost could be young people.

I was telling Wendy just yesterday that I saw a guy in the cafeteria, a guy whose job for at least the past ten years, maybe longer, has been in designing and maintaining the Shuttle GPCs, the General Purpose Computers that fly the shuttle during the most critical mission phases. Unfortunately for him, USA doesn’t have any work — that I know of — dealing with the onboard computers. That guy might be able to find a job with Honeywell in Arizona, or he might be able to find work around Houston, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to continue with USA even though he’s a talented and skilled hardware man.

And that’s too bad, even though the guy is a pompous ass.

We’ve known that things were going to change, and we knew it some time ago. But as we approach 2010, the last year for the Shuttle, the changes are no longer way off in some distant future. They’re just around the corner, and as that date gets closer, it’s really going to begin putting pressure on us. Even for those of us fortunate enough to have found a new home in Constellation, it’s likely to be a turbulent time.

One Response to “Another reason I’m glad to be in the Constellation program”

  1. Leigh Ann Says:

    I read this yesterday and didn’t post my comment, which was “Daddy and I were just talking about this today!”