Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
NASA Space

Layoff Anxiety Is Top Risk To Space Shuttle 178

pickens writes "Florida today reports that as NASA marches toward its final two shuttle flights, the safety of the crew rests with workers who know every bolt they turn, every heat-shield tile they inspect, brings them that much closer to the unemployment line in April 2011 raising concerns that people might jump ship early if other job opportunities open up. 'We've been most concerned about maintaining and sustaining the knowledge necessary to safely conduct mission operations,' says Retired Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Dyer. But shuttle work force surveys show a fierce loyalty and a dedication to sticking it out as long term employees want to be there when the last shuttle touches down. 'They love being part of NASA and what NASA does, and they love being part of the space shuttle program. And they want to be a part of it as long as we're doing the kinds of things that we're doing,' says LeRoy Cain, NASA's deputy shuttle program manager."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Layoff Anxiety Is Top Risk To Space Shuttle

Comments Filter:
  • Layoff Anxiety? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkKnightRadick ( 268025 ) <> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:39AM (#33331348) Homepage Journal

    This is exactly the reason that restaurants and other companies don't tell employees about plant or store closures until the last moment. It's not entirely fair to the workers, but many would rather find a new job quickly instead of being unemployed. I was out of work for nearly 2 months (and even then I was lucky in finding new work) when the restaurant I worked out told us 5 minutes before we walked out the door for the evening that we wouldn't be open in the morning.

    I imagine those these folks working for NASA have skills that the private space agencies will definitely want and I wouldn't be surprised to see most of these guys going to work the next day for one of those companies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by qpawn ( 1507885 )

      From Arrested Development:

      Narrator: "Before firing his employees, George Sr. would be sure to clear the office of its valuables. [...] The employees never saw it coming, although their first task was to unload their equipment from a truck."

    • look up warn act (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:00AM (#33331460)

      look up warn act

      WARN Act layoff notice laws require employers to give employees notification before mass layoffs or plant closings

      • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:51AM (#33331730)

        WARN Act layoff notice laws require employers to give employees notification before mass layoffs or plant closings

        Or pay a modest fine that can't be collected from a bankrupt store/restaurant etc and is probably less than the productivity losses from pre-announcing at the plant.

        On the other hand theres no point in carrying this too far, once you get to assembly plants (automotive, etc) everyone knows when no supply orders are delivered anymore, etc.

        As a hint, if the store is accumulating empty unstocked shelves, its going down....

        • Re:look up warn act (Score:4, Informative)

          by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:22AM (#33331920) Homepage Journal

          Yep.The WARN Act is practically pointless. You can always tell when massive layoffs are starting because the company will do things like institute a freeze on all hiring, stop buying office supplies, refuse requests for purchase orders, cancel projects previously thought to be important, etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Lockheed Martin only gave me and other engineers/programmers 8 hours notice in 2001.

        Guess the WARN Act doesn't really work. As for looking for a new job, I've learned from experience that it's better to work until your last day. (And collect the 3-6 months of severance bonus.) If someone wants to hire you, they'll be willing to wait another 1 or 2 months.

        • by xaxa ( 988988 )

          Lockheed Martin only gave me and other engineers/programmers 8 hours notice in 2001.

          Is that normal?

          My employer could tell me not to come in to work any more, but they'd still have to pay me for four weeks, plus any unused holiday days. (The four week period increases the longer I work here. Four weeks is the minimum.)

          Quoting from the staff policy book: Redundancy: This is not entertained lightly at ___. However, where this is unavoidable, management will provide counselling for staff and allow time off with pay for staff to seek alternative work or make arrangements for training before t

    • Peter Gibbons: You're gonna lay off Samir and Michael?

      Bob Slydell: Oh yeah, we're gonna bring in some entry-level graduates, farm some work out to Singapore, that's the usual deal.

      Bob Porter: Standard operating procedure.

      Peter Gibbons: Do they know this yet?

      Bob Slydell: No. No, of course not. We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week.

      • I knew those names were familiar. Hilarious movie. (:

        have you seen Waiting...

      • more importantly, it saves the accounting the department from having to recalculate half-a-weeks pay for all the people they layoff.... MOST companies DON'T have any severance for layoff other than maybe owed vacation time.

    • Re:Layoff Anxiety? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:51PM (#33332462) Journal
      And that's why in many of those "socialist" countries like France, firing or resigning has to be preceded by a notice at least 3 months before. It can be shorter if both parties agree but if they do not, the three months salary is due (to the employer if the employee quits earlier or to the employee if the employer wants to fire quickly). Exceptions exist though (professional fault, mainly) but it tends to make things a lot clearer and to give less incentive to hide the situation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      the short term problem of not getting the last two launches prepared is the LEAST of NASA's problems. The REAL problem is that once these guys are gone and the teams broken up, that technical ability is gone... poof. NASA doesn't even have the program to build a capsule for basic maintenance of the space station and servicing satellites STARTED YET! This is going to be a 20 year blight on the agency when it happens... these jobs aren't going to be replaced, private industry isn't legally ALLOWED to do the k

      • That is an issue that needs to be addressed first and foremost by changing the law so that these private companies can do those things. Otherwise it won't be 20 year blight on the agency, but a 20 year blight for the entire nation (at least in this area).

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:51AM (#33331404)
    Since I work at KSC I guess I can provide some insight. The purpose of these new space plans is to reduce the cost of launches. The way you do that is by using a simpler vehicle and less people. So there is no way all or most of the people here will get new jobs in private space. Also Brevard County has a few other employees but most of it relies on KSC. So as people need to start moving to find other jobs housing prices will continue to plummet so expect lots of foreclosures and a total decimation of the local economy. The article is correct. Even facing these prospects most of the employees continue to do their job perfectly day in day out because of the love of the program and their country. When you see the orbiters they look like they just rolled out of the factory. Anything you read about orbiters deteriorating is a lie. They are pristine. Many people are still in denial that this county would be so stupid as to throw away such magnificent machines and they want to be there to keep them flying when we come to our senses.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:05AM (#33331482)

      When you see the orbiters they look like they just rolled out of the factory. Anything you read about orbiters deteriorating is a lie. They are pristine.

      With all the money and attention lavished on them, that is as it should be.

      Many people are still in denial that this county would be so stupid as to throw away such magnificent machines and they want to be there to keep them flying when we come to our senses.

      The shuttles barely have a niche now, and that niche only exists because people work hard to make it exist - the shuttles are a prime example of what not to do, and I couldn't care less (yes, that is the correct way to use that phrase - its "couldn't" not "could") if the shuttles never fleww again.

      What the US needs now is a commuter vehicle, something that runs as regular as a standard family car, with similar maintenance levels, not classic car levels. The US does not need a 'do it all' vehicle which comes with an appropriately sized superbudget, it does not need the ability to haul the entire house with it each time it makes the commute from the house to the office. Leave the heavy lift to specialised vehicles, and leave the commuting to specialised vehicles - they are separate problems, they should have separate solutions.

      • What the US needs is to not be in such a desperate rush to put humans in space with such very early supporting tech.

        We could develop many of the robotic and remote-manned systems we (require) to function usefully in space without sending humans. Humans in space are sent to performs tasks. We should work to not needing that, then send humans for its own sake after other tech matures.

        There is _zero_ reason to rush. Manned vehicles are doomed to glacially slow development cycles at our primitive level of suppo

        • Why not go back to expendable men though?

          One of the reasons manned flights are so damn expensive is because there's redundancy after redundancy to try to do absolutely everything to ensure 99.99999% crew survival rate. By letting crew survival rate go down to, say, 25%, things could get a lot cheaper.

          Now, some people are going to say, it's inhuman of society to gamble with the lives of its citizens, but I ask, isn't it ultimately the choice of every *individual* whether or not they want to gamble with their

          • One of the reasons manned flights are so damn expensive is because there's redundancy after redundancy to try to do absolutely everything to ensure 99.99999% crew survival rate. By letting crew survival rate go down to, say, 25%, things could get a lot cheaper.

            25% survival rate is useless for almost all purposes. It means that only one flight in 4 succeeds, which is far below the sweet spot of most bang for buck, even if the payload were free of cost. It also means that you'll be replacing your crew consta

            • It also means that you'll be replacing your crew constantly, making everyone a novice in every flight.

              Which is a non-issue if we're sending people up for other reasons than to get astronaut training. If we're sending a geologist up to study a comet, then it doesn't matter that he's a novice at astronauting.

              Also, exactly why do you think we do manned flights at all? It's precisely to increase the safety to the point where you can sell tourist tickets to celebrities

              That may be your reasoning, but there are other lines of reasoning too, that don't require increased safety. For example, sending people up to do construction work on comets. That doesn't require increasing safety to massively redundant levels.

              At a 25% level (or pick any other number, really, that you can

        • This is the right approach in my books.

          For the effort, expense and materials you can do more with a robot in space
          because it does not need food, water, or air.

          If a robot breaks in space fair odds you can repair it with another robot
          if you got the parts up there.

          If a human breaks in space...not so much.

          Any mission to mars with humans would require so much food, water,
          and other supplies that it would take up most of the room on the spacecraft.

          Build a few tougher rovers and send them.

          Make it so they can repair

        • There is no "cost" problem, it is a PRIORITY problem. We spend more than 1 Billion dollars a month (all borrowed outside the usual 25% military budget) on our little "peace" missions. Six months of not paying for any more wars would put people on Mars quite easily. The problem is that after we went to the Moon, we didn't KEEP doing it. We threw away all the technology and experience in the 1970s, and we're about to throw away the ability to put ANY people in orbit. NASA's budget is a fraction of what it wa

      • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:15AM (#33331868)
        The energy distance from the ground to even low earth orbit is such that your "commuter vehicle" has to carry many times its own weight in fuel, and the fuel is very nasty stuff. Human beings with their fragility and their extensive maintenance requirements are the very worst kind of payload. If your car had to make it to the office through hard vacuum, carrying many times its own weight of fuel, it would indeed need to do the equivalent of carrying the entire house with it.

        Although the ideal requirement can be stated concisely, that does not mean it is actually possible. NASA's overall problem is one of mission incompatibility. Normally if I post something like this, somebody replies "with your attitude we wouldn't have discovered fire yet". To which the reply is that fire is ridiculously easy to discover; wait for a thunderstorm after a dry period. We have got where we are because energy became more and more readily available as our tools improved. But energy has ceased to become more readily available; we do not have any feasible technology for space lift that does not require exotic chemical mixtures. NASA is being asked to look at the wrong end of the telescope. Much better fuel or lift means needs to come first. Douglas Adams, who was no fool, satirised the problem with his infinite improbability drive and bistromath drives, but in fact he identified the core problem in space travel.

        • You misunderstand my point on several levels.

          Firstly, my point about hauling the house was meant for the unbelievably stupid concept of having the shuttle built to haul several tonnes of cargo on top of its crew of seven people while the basic issues of risk have not been solved. The very fact that you have a heavy cargo on board increases the risk to the crew to, in my humble opinion, unacceptable levels as you increase the complexity of onboard systems, control, abort scenarios etc etc etc.

          • I'm not sure what you are saying here. I thought you were arguing for a "commuter vehicle" to get payloads to LEO. My point is that it isn't the cargo that makes the system expensive and unreliable; it's the crew and the fuel. If the payload is a satellite, it's quite happy with hard vacuum and a wide temperature range. Human beings don't much like either, plus a satellite doesn't need to pee. If you are arguing for a "commuter vehicle" to deliver people to LEO, my immediate question is "why?".

            I agree that

            • You might like to consider, vis-a-vis aviation, that we looked at supersonic passenger aircraft and then walked away from them because they were stupidly expensive (and actually unsafe.) We did much better with aircraft designed to work, as it were, with the atmosphere rather than against it. Jeremy Clarkson, no less, suggested that supersonic aircraft went away because of mobile phones and the Internet. In the same way, within the limits of our current technical capability, the need for manned spacecraft (
        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          The energy distance from the ground to even low earth orbit

          When I did the calculation, I got something like $10 in electricity per kg of payload (at the usual $0.10 per KwH) to put something in orbit. The energy distance isn't trivial, but it's not the real obstacle here. The real obstacle is the delta v. You need to pick up somewhere around 9-10 km/s of velocity (including some that you lose to gravity since you don't instantly end up in orbit and to a burn to circularize your orbit). With our relatively inefficient engines (in terms of ISP/exhaust velocity, therm

        • But the most BASIC level of improving the situation for exploring the solar system is to stop launching every rocket from Earth with enough fuel for an entire trip. A much cheaper solution is to use the Moon for the launch point, but the US hasn't put a man there in 40 years, it' s practically a myth now. Sure, that doesn't solve all the fuel problems, but it allows you to focus on efficient ships for "milk runs" from Earth to the Moon, and allow the Moon teams to build ships to go further that don't have t

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:08PM (#33332184)

        The shuttles are a definitely not the best possible design, we know that now, but at the time they were built they seemed like a good idea. Either way, just because the shuttles aren't the ideal vehicle doesn't mean we should toss the whole program away, which is what we are doing. I live in Floida, and visit the space coast often and know a lot of the "little people" in the space program. They are insanely dedicated, even the people who do jobs others would consider demeaning or unimportant. They knew the people who died in the various NASA accidents way better then the engineers in Houston did, and they work every day to keep the astronauts safe. The majority of them can and will get better paying jobs in the private sector, many of them routinely turned down offers when economic times were better (no one is getting rich at NASA).

        There is a ridiculous amount of institutional knowledge in the shuttle program, as well as a culture the defies all the regular government stereotypes. Once the team is disbanded and goes their separate ways we will have lost our best shot as a country at safe sustained manned space flight. We should have had a next generation vehicle ready to transition them too, but politics and the vague promise that somehow commercial space flight will fill in has killed it. Apparently as a country we no longer want to lead in the realms of science and engineering, and are content to have our only government funded innovations come in the form of new banking procedures to steal from the poor and give to the rich.

        • by JWW ( 79176 )

          I wish I still had some mod points. Fantastic post!

        • by Teancum ( 67324 )

          The Shuttle is history already, only the walking zombies are insisting that it lives on. The time to save the Shuttle was about two years ago.... and about two years after (at the time) the original decision to end the Shuttle program had been made. There was a chance and there were even groups within the space community that were saying "now is the time to save the Shuttle".... but nobody paid attention at the time in terms of politicians or anybody that mattered.

          Yes, I realize there may be institutional

      • I couldn't care less (yes, that is the correct way to use that phrase - its "couldn't" not "could")

        Phrase it any way you want to, I could care less.

      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        Why haven't we tried an update of the shuttle?

        I know it's got like, 60s-70s era computers in it and whatnot and it has its flaws, but they've run hundreds of missions with the damn thing and they've went pretty fine. The ability to land on a runway has got to be a pretty big bonus as well. Why haven't we tried to make a modernized version of that?

        I'm sure there's valid engineering and financial reasons for the "rocket and capsule" route that we (and pretty much every private agency) seem to be going, but ae

        • by Teancum ( 67324 )

          Why haven't we tried an update of the shuttle?

          NASA has tried. There has been a singular failure within NASA to get any sort of new vehicle for manned spaceflight developed. From the CRV to the DC-X, the Apollo II project and several other interesting but failed experiments leading up to the Ares I/Ares V/Orion spacecraft system (and arguably even the DIRECT concept) keep getting massive amounts of funding but also consistently get shut down eventually... usually due to political expediency or lack of congressional support to get those projects to com

          • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

            The sad thing is, I imagine Virgin Galactic or a similar company is going to essentially have this and beat most world governments to the punch.

            As it stands we have Spaceship One/Two which uses a mothership to launch the craft into low orbit. I'm sure with some scaling up this could be done on a level where we have ships that are capable of dragging cargo out into space if need be. It's sad to see the decline of one of America's finest government institutions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      proud of our country?

      do you realize (I'm sure you do) that all chips, transistors, resistors and caps (especially caps; see the china syndrome 'bad caps' that made the news the last, oh, 10 or so years) are made overseas.

      we can't trust or rely on their parts quality anymore (the entire world got screwed over by trusting the chinese build caps and not have the electrolyte explode in years to come).

      I'm actually surprised more things aren't failing and falling out of the sky due to bad caps (they are even in

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Well thank god we didn't outsource those O-rings for the fuel tanks to some country of assholes! Who knows what could have happened.

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:25PM (#33333236)
          There's so much CYA going around about those, I'm not sure what to believe, but I was under the impression that they performed to specs. The issue is they were operated out of spec. Whether that's because the spec wasn't properly defined, the requested spec didn't match the delivered spec, or the shuttle was launched outside its specified environmental window, I don't know. But my impression is that the o-rings were delivered with a rated operational temperature and never failed in that range.
        • The quality of the o-rings wasn't the issue - choosing to launch when they knew the weather was unsuitable is what caused the explosion. On the other hand, China has had some FAR worse disasters while developing their own space program, and those failures were entirely due to poor design/manufacture.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, I'm very sorry to say that aluminium electrolytic capacitors are not used in space vehicles. Their inherent poor reliability (even the best japanese ones) and tendency to outgas nasty things makes them a no-no. You can find some steel-cased, hermetically sealed ones in jet planes, but not in space applications.
        And by the way, lots of american semiconductor manufacturers have their rad-hard/space-grad fab located in the US.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:32PM (#33333744)

        The biggest expense for the US is military.

        We have 700+ bases in 130+ countries, we are the new Rome.

        Just the cost of maintaining multiple carrier groups is staggering.

        Eisenhower warned us about the Military Industrial Complex on
        the way out of office.

        JFK tried to do something in that regard and he got his head blown off.

        The NASA budget is a tiny joke compared to the military one.

        The next biggest budget is Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and
        the way to deal with that would be a Co-op similar to the way
        the insurance company USAA is run.

        The current system is bloated and ppl have to sue the government
        just to get their benefits some of the time.

        Having the nations of the world police themselves and reforming
        SSI and Medicare would take care of our money problems.

        Using Algae oil grown in the desert and ending all imports of
        oil would totally eliminate the trade deficit in just a few years. []

        100,000 gal/acre/yr in the desert using non-arable land.

        It would pay better than any legal crop at this time.

        It would make jobs and solve our energy issues til we
        can migrate the infrastructure over to hydrogen. []

        Then with time we can get one of the several ideas for Fusion
        off the ground and move to an primary electric system. []

        Dense plasma focus has the lead at this point for cost
        effective use.

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:33PM (#33334284) Homepage Journal

          The biggest expense for the US is military.

          This used to be true. Now the largest expense in the federal government is interest on federal debt, with the #2 largest expense being Social Security payments, and #3 is health care benefits to federal workers (and this was before Obamacare went into effect).

          Military spending is now #6 or #7 on the list of top fiscal outlays, and falling. Appropriations for NASA hardly even show up on the pie graphs at all, and this year are down to 0.1% of the federal budget.

          You point is well taken, but military spending shouldn't be made out to be the bad guy here even though they still do get a huge hunk of change every year.

          • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

            by MrWa ( 144753 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:02PM (#33336482) Homepage
            Link to data showing military spending at #6 or #7, because this [] shows you are WAY off in that regard.
            • Even that chart doesn't show the "off budget" funds when Congress does pure borrowing in 100 Billion a pop. All that money is "off the books" as far as the budget keepers are concerned, which is why even though every other program is seeing cuts, the deficit is ballooning at record rates. Adding in off-budget military funding they are definitely in first place now. The stating of the military "minimum" is deceptive because Congress is constitutionally not allowed to guarantee military funds year-over-year,

      • we don't actually spend that much on NASA any more, it's budget has been cut to a fraction of even 20 years ago. The real problem is that we have to do BOTH, we have plenty of food in this country, sure there are hungry people but that is a social problem not a money problem and there are still fewer than any other time in US history. Our transit systems need work, but again, that money and employees can come from the Military budget if it was really important. As far as digital infrastructure, again to co

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by strack ( 1051390 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:22AM (#33331566)
      when it costs a billion dollars per launch, it had better bloody well be pristine. a bad design still in pristine condition is still a bad design. the original concept of the space shuttle was to make space access inexpensive and safer. it has failed on both those fronts. it has frozen advancement in space launch for 30 years. hell, more than 30 years. the saturn V could do it cheaper, per kg, and safer too. with engine out capability, a real crew escape system, etc. etc. the shuttle is a dead end, and i for one want to make sure the door hits it in the ass on the way out. and as for those people out of a job, well damn, they could all still be employed by private space if nasa ups its commitment to private space, to the extent that they need the same manpower. only this time, a whole lot more tonnage will be getting to orbit.
      • There's never any moderator points around when you really want them. That's one of the best summaries of the shuttle program's failures I've seen. We're still screwing around in Low Earth Orbit when we should be well on the way to putting a Mars colony together, and that's thanks in large part to the shuttle.

      • Please tell us all, with your clearly vast experience putting spacecraft into space, how you would have met the same requirements. Let's make it simple for you, 65000 lbs to a polar orbit with a 1200 mile crossrange capability. Dazzle us!

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:45PM (#33332422)

          I have had vast experience working STS ascent GN&C in the 80's and early 90's. I worked about 22 missions and I can tell you the Shuttle has never been able to put 65,000 lbs in polar orbit. The best it could do for a 90 degree launch would be about 35,000 lbs. It would also have had to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base since you can't launch polar from KSC due to abort restrictions. Vandenberg was never used due to the Challenger disaster and the launch pad there was converted to launch Delta IVs so you couldn't even do a Shuttle polar mission.

          BTW, even though the original design specs called for 65,000lbs, the Shuttle has never been able to put 65,000 lbs in orbit heading due east from KSC. It gets a maximum of 55,250 lbs.

          Even though I loved working on the Shuttle program, I think we would have been better off building a separate crew transport and improving the heavy lift capability we already had.

        • by Teancum ( 67324 )

          The Saturn V could put more into orbit and do it cheaper than the Shuttle. So why was the Saturn V abandoned again? This time the Shuttle is being abandoned for the Ares I, which puts even fewer astronauts into orbit for more money still, and this time without any cargo capacity at all except for a couple hundred pounds in the "trunk". Yes, an Ares I launch is at least the same cost if not more than a Shuttle lanuch.

          I'd like to be dazzled too. And as pointed out by the AC poster, the Shuttle never had a

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      sorry bub. I have no desire to dis NASA, but you fucks haven't done anything since we landed on the moon. Politician's fault, not yours.

      When I see NASA monies being used to "uplift" Moslems and Women, I shake my head in wonder.

      Then I notice that Advanced Propulsion research has been canceled.

      Then I noticed that while we once flew to the Moon, we no longer can.

      Pournelle's Iron Law has prevailed at NASA. Fire them all and give Space to the Navy.

    • Wow I got a lot of flak there. All I was doing was giving some of the reasons people I know plan to stick around to the end of the program. I personally think NASA should get out of the launch vehicle business completely. We should design the missions around what LV's exist. This would leverage all of the money DOD spends on developing it's rockets. When DOD upgrades we can use them as well. And for some reason what DOD wants DOD gets.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:43PM (#33333370) Homepage Journal

      I have no doubt that the finest work ever done in relation to the Shuttle program is perhaps being done now by the workers at KSC, and that these vehicles are in the best shape that they have ever been in.

      The issue is that the time to save the Shuttle program has passed by and that the production lines needed to replace parts currently being used for the maintenance have now shut down, and that there is a need to at least replace the Columbia and perhaps create a few more new orbiters in order to really use this capability to its fullest. Getting that supply chain going again including restoring the staff at the Michoud Assembly Facility is not just difficult, I would dare say that in the current federal budget environment would be impossible to accomplish. And that is but the most obvious facility that has already had lay-offs with the employees already gone and moved on to other things. Many other factories involved with the construction and maintenance of the Space Shuttle have had similar kinds of lay-offs.

      If anything, what is happening at KSC is just a delayed action to stuff that has been happening for years now.

      Would it stink if it were me in the position you are in? Absolutely! I would be hating life in that kind of circumstance. I am very much aware that this is going to force many people to change their lifestyles in Brevard County. Then again, the problem is that everybody is depending on the government here where there are another thousand counties or so in America that are asking why are they sending money to this county when they would be just as deserving.

      Over time, I think this is going to be something better for that part of Florida anyway, and in terms of places to perform launches into orbit, KSC is quite difficult to beat. It still is one of the premier locations on the Earth for orbital spaceflight and that is a fact of geography that other places like Virginia, Texas, and New Mexico can't beat.

      I agree that what needs to happen is to reduce the cost of launches and spaceflight in general. I personally don't think that the Ares/Orion (or this new "heavy lift vehicle" for that matter) is going to be any cheaper, but that is a personal opinion and the sentiment is well in hand. To me, the best chance that KSC has is to encourage The Florida Space Authority [] to get its act together and turn KSC into the spaceflight equivalent of the O'Hare International Airport. I believe that day is coming where even NASA is going to be told to wait for an opening for launch with a launch window measured on the order of minutes instead of days because of the sheer traffic happening there. Perhaps other locations could open up that might work out better, but I think it would take an idiot to pass up on the potential of that launch location for all but specialized flights.

      It is time to let the Space Shuttle go gracefully into history. That program has served our country well, and so have the thousands of dedicated people who have help to get that hunk of equipment into orbit. The jobs are eventually going to return, but it won't be the same kind of jobs and the companies involved won't be the same either. In fact, many of the companies who will eventually be there may not even exist yet. That would be my suggestion: find those companies or form one of them if you have the skills necessary.

    • Since I work at KSC I guess I can provide some insight. The purpose of these new space plans is to reduce the cost of launches. The way you do that is by using a simpler vehicle and less people.

      Exactly. I am glad guys at the KSC are thinking about the long term future of space transport rather than wanting to keep maintaining such an expensive vehicle, even though the cost of maintaining it is primarily spent hiring people in the KSC. Efficiency is key to progress, a cheaper way of launching must involve s

  • by vandelais ( 164490 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:57AM (#33331442)

    Here it was I thought dying in a gigantic fireball upon liftoff or reentry was the top risk.
    Those were the days.

  • Don't have to worry much about a job opportunity for NASA workers.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:33PM (#33332352) Homepage

    This is just the maintenance crew. NASA's real collapse came at the end of Apollo, when they laid off most of the people who designed and engineered spacecraft. NASA, like Google now, had been the place where the really smart and competent people went. That all ended around 1973.

    • Always the same thing; the same either/or choice: Choose to pay to prepare America for the future, or choose to pay for stupid wars.
      • by Phrogman ( 80473 )

        Haven't studies shown that an American president who gets involved in a war is most likely to get reelected? That might be one cause for the US getting constantly involved in wars; the others being that it lets the current president pay off the military industrial complex and it lets you test new weapon systems. This would explain a lot about US foreign policy if true, sadly :P

        Caveat: I am Canadian, so my viewpoint isn't the same as a US citizen's might be.

      • by lennier ( 44736 )

        Or you could do both: choose to pay to prepare America for stupid future wars!

        The new Phased Plasma Clown Gun will make our forces unstoppable.

    • And NASA got cut because the public at large only wanted to go to the moon as a pissing contest with Russia. Once we got there and walked around, all the average person could see was a large chunk of money going to old news. It's not all that different today, except that we don't have a lot of money going to NASA, so cutting it further cripples it, and sure, there are criticisms to be made of what NASA does/has to do (politicians from every state sticking their hand in the pork barrel doesn't help), but if

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern