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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."
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Layoff Anxiety Is Top Risk To Space Shuttle

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  • 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:2, Interesting)

    by The Shootist ( 324679 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:03AM (#33331802)

    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.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skids ( 119237 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:43AM (#33332044) Homepage

    Someday you will wake up and realize that you are stuck here with the rest of us until we clean up our own household. As things currently stand politically, culturally, and technologically, the best we would be able to manage for the next several decades would be to basically destroy our own civilization in order to get an unsurvivably small population of humans off this rock.

    I don't think space exploration is a waste of time mind you -- we put about the right level of resources into it. If we're smart we'll put all our resources WRT space into unmanned capabilities where they do the most good, with a few long-term deep space survivability tests using human volunteers.

    (My bet is we will be nothing resembling today's human by the time serious terrestrial emmigration occurs. Genetically modified and loaded with implants.)

  • 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.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:09PM (#33332192)

    Someday you will wake up and realize that you are stuck here with the rest of us until we clean up our own household.

    I realized that long ago, and have done more than a little toward that end. I won't bore you with a biography, but I helped design and implement a waste management program in a mid-sized city that tripled its waste diversion rate. I've also been active politically, and in habitat-protection programs for species at risk.

    You don't seem to understand what a tiny percentage of the GDP, peoples' tax dollars...however you want to measure it...goes to space. A workable colony on the Moon or Mars isn't beyond our current or near-future capabilities, and needn't "destroy our own civilization". If that were true, the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would already have done the job. Here's just one suggestion: [] . There are others as good or better.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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:look up warn act (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:36PM (#33333772) Journal

    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.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford