AmericaSpace Note: This is sad news. After the struggle to pass the Senate 2010 NASA Authorization Act (S. 3729), now comes news that lay-off’s are in the works at ATK, Boeing, and Lockheed. They are not the only ones looking at loosing good, talented, hard-working people, and that is the shocking thing.
As NASA closes the door on the Space Shuttle program, lay-off’s are in the works.
There have been earlier lay-off’s by contractors attached to either the Shuttle or the Constellation program, that have ordered more than 300 layoffs in the Huntsville, Alabama area, as reported by the Huntsville Times. They became necessary when NASA held back approximately $900 million in fourth-quarter funding for the Constellation rocket program. The total damage of the transition from the Space Shuttle to Constellation, then from strangling Constellation, as NASA’s executive management made every effort to do over the past 7 months, to the new Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle program included in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act is unknown at this time; it is assumed that the number is in the thousands.
Alliant Techsystems’ (ATK) will announce today the lay-off of 426 employees from its Aerospace Systems division’s Space Launch Systems group. Taken together with previous lay-off’s since 2009, the total number of employees laid-off reaches over 2,000. These are the individuals who built and refueled the solid rocket boosters (SRB’s) for the Space Shuttle. This loss of talent and expertise in SRB’s occurs even as NASA begins a new heavy-lift launch vehicle program that will, in all likelihood, use either the Shuttle SRB’s or a 5-segment derivative that was being built for the Ares I first-stage. But ATK isn’t alone in its lay-off’s.
Over at Lockheed Martin’s Michoud Facility, there will be several hundred lay-off’s announced. Michoud, where 136 Shuttle external tanks were manufactured, once employed over 1,500; since January of this year, that number has dropped to 1,000. Some of the anticipated lay-off’s will be mitigated with passage by the House of the Senate 2010 NASA Authorization Act that keeps the Orion spacecraft as a deep-space exploration vehicle. Earlier this year, the Administration had proposed scrapping Orion and then changed course to have Orion become a life-boat on the International Space Station (ISS).
The number of lay-off’s in the Kennedy Space Center area is staggering. For the KSC area, Irene Klotz of Reuters reports in NASA Showdown Looms As Shuttle Workers Face Layoffs, “With the shuttle program winding down, prime shuttle contractor United Space Alliance reports 1,222 employees – 877 in Florida, 333 in Texas and 12 in Alabama — will be laid off on Friday. Another 350 shuttle contractor jobs also are expected to end on Friday“.
But the most shocking thing is that some of the “New” space companies pursuing commercial crew launch are also planning lay-off’s. It appears that some took it as gospel that the Obama Administration proposal to outsource our national human space flight program was a fait accompli and expanded their own employee ranks. In light of the direction given in the latest NASA authorization bill, that growth in employment by some of these commercial space companies was a bit premature.