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Space Government NASA

1,200 NASA Layoffs, Shuttle Fuel Tank Plant Shuts Down 236

As the space shuttle program winds down, 1,200 NASA workers were laid off today, and thousands more will lose their jobs in the months ahead. "Many shuttle workers held out hope that they could find new jobs in the Constellation program, which would have included two new rocket systems and a new crew module to transport astronauts into space. From the beginning, Constellation was plagued by underfunding. This year, Obama killed the program's future funding because of budget overruns and because it was behind schedule. That could affect more than 20,000 workers along Florida's space coast, according to Rice." This comes alongside news that Lockheed Martin has stopped work at the production plant that supplied 136 external fuel tanks for the space shuttles since 1973.
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1,200 NASA Layoffs, Shuttle Fuel Tank Plant Shuts Down

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  • Wonder how.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:11PM (#33765102)
    I wonder how a certain political faction that starts with a 'R' will spin this one? "The Gov'ment" just got smaller yet a thousand folks lost their _jobs_ in a vicious recession. It's funny how it's never considered that all those government employees actually _spend_ the money they make.
  • seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:14PM (#33765132) Homepage

    Change is often painful. These layoffs and the others that are coming from the discontinuation of the Shuttle program are nothing compared to the layoffs that would be necessary to get defense spending in line with the DoD's actual needs. The military-industrial complex is a huge jobs program, with branches in every Congressional district in the country.

  • Inevitable (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:15PM (#33765144)

    Things become obsolete, out of date, the skills become less relevant, the technology passes by.

    We also aren't making P-51's, B-52 or Missouri-class Battleships.

    Somehow the world hasn't ended.

    Do we have a plan for how to proceed from here? Perhaps, perhaps, but with the way Congress works, they'll go two steps in one direction, reverse course, go back three, take four to the left, five to the right, dig a hole, fill it back up, then water some iron to make it rust.

    Maybe we should just invest in more X-prizes, maybe NASA should be given a fixed budget, maybe the whole thing should be put up to a national referendum. I dunno.

    But I can't cry tears for folks with 20-30 years of government work.

  • by Bucc5062 ( 856482 ) <> on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:20PM (#33765198)

    And what private company had built a program from scratch and sent humans to the moon. What private company built launched and continues to monitor probes that have sailed past the edge of our solar system. What private company built, delivered and continues to run an exploration program on the surface of another planet.

    NASA has had flops, they've had triumphs, but to say that "these people should be put out of a job" is disingenuous at best, insulting to the good people that worked to expand our knowledge of space and space travel. Unless it is for profit no company will take the same high risks NASA took to accomplish some amazing feats. There is need for both types of programs. One to do something that no For profit company will undertake, one to exploit the knowledge found. Through out history we have examples where government sponsored exploration led to business exploitation, got for all but those being on the receiving end of exploitation. Use your brain before you open your mouth (or type) next time and realize there are real people, real lives behind your comment.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:21PM (#33765212)

    It always sucks to lose your job. But government layoffs like this are the inevitable result of the long overdue move to getting out of the way of commercial spaceflight.
    Plus, when a highly skilled workforce gets furloughed that is an opportunity for new companies in the area to improve their human capital. Necessity is the mother of invention.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:23PM (#33765238)

    The article says October 1 is coincidence. Well, the layoffs are *because* October 1 is the beginning of the new fiscal year for NASA. I (working for a contractor) had my last day yesterday along with a lot of other folks because the goddamn budget still hasn't gone through for the contracts. It's okay for me--I'm a kid, I'm taking a vacation until the money comes back--but for the real talent who still got screwed, who have families, they'll need to find other jobs. The brain drain on the contractors could be a bad thing.

    From what I've seen, we'll get a good NASA back when we fix the problems with its masters. There are lots of good people who are doing lots of good work that then gets mercilessly thrown away by the folks on top. There are other problems, lord knows--endless, useless conferences, useless hangers-on, and an institutional memory that's inching towards 100% Powerpoint--but being able to fund a project to completion goes a long damn way.

  • Re:How depressing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by icebrain ( 944107 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:42PM (#33765462)

    In case something happens to this one.
    So the species can grow.

    Or any other reason that doesn't involve meekly rolling over and accepting the end of our race with a whimper.

    No, we can't do it right now. But that's all the more reason to be trying to figure out how.

  • It's not political (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:42PM (#33765468)
    Why are there so many people trying to blame the end of the shuttle on the Democrats. The space shuttle has been operational for 30 years across both Republican and Democratic administrations. It was mostly developed during the Ford and Carter administrations. The timing of the space shuttle retirement has nothing to do with the party in power. I get the feeling if there's an earthquake in China Republicans will blame it on Mr. Obama. Maybe its payback for all the flattering films Michael Moore made about Mr. Bush. Can't we all just get along? Both parties are equally inept and corrupt. I feel bad for the engineers who stayed on with the shuttle until the very end. Many probably could have left earlier for a more secure job. But they stayed on in order to ensure the safety of the final flight. I hope NASA and the government take care of these people and ease their transitions into other jobs. Call me a softie. I have been sacked from a job and I have a family, so I know what it's like. It could happen to anyone.
  • Is NASA supposed to be a jobs program or a space program?

    If the latter, then killing the Shuttle and Ares was the right move.

  • Damn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @06:13PM (#33765804)

    Am I the only one looking at those numbers and saying "Damn what the hell did all those people do". Maybe privatization is good. 1200 people to produce a fuel tank every few months. There is a light bulb joke in there somewhere.

  • poor nasa (Score:2, Insightful)

    by luther349 ( 645380 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @06:21PM (#33765872)
    sad being we dump billion into a useless war everyday.
  • by zelbinion ( 442226 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @07:22PM (#33766414)

    We have private companies that produce better results

    Not a single one has ever put anyone in orbit. I'm all for letting private enterprise launch our payloads for us, but until they star launching people, NASA will still be needed. Or would have been, had they retained the ability to launch people into space.

    Um, what??

    McDonnell (now part of Boeing) built the Mercury and Gemini capsules (sent many people to orbit)
    Convair (parts of which are now General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin) built the Atlas rocket that launched Mercury
    Martin (now part of Lockheed Martin) build the Titan rockets that launched the Gemini capsules
    North American (now part of Boeing) build the Apollo command module
    Grumman built the Apollo Lunar Module
    Boeing, North American (now part of Boeing), and Douglas (now part of Boeing) contributed to building the Saturn V rocket that was used in the Apollo missions
    Rockwell (now part of Boeing) build the Space Shuttle Orbiter
    Martin (now part of Lockheed) built the Shuttle's External Tank
    Thiokol built the Solid Rocket Boosters for the Shuttle

    Private companies have built every vehicle ever used to send Americans (and citizens from many other countries) into space since NASA starting doing that. In fact NASA has NEVER sent anyone into space without a vehicle built by a private company.

    Boeing and Lockheed Martin are still very much involved in launching things into space, and do so much more often than NASA does. All they need is a financial reason to send humans up there, and they'll do it -- with or without NASA.

  • by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:38PM (#33766990)

    Plenty of things. Whats your point?

    When you're launching complex machines with low production numbers that are primarily designed to direct and control large chemical explosions, theres a decent risk of something going wrong no matter who is doing it.

  • Re:Wonder how.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Megane ( 129182 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:53PM (#33767740) Homepage
    When these people get re-hired, they'll call it "new jobs created".
  • Foolishness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:04AM (#33768338) Homepage Journal

    If the DoD budget was trimmed even by half (which is still too bloody much spending) and the monies redirected toward, infrastructure, education, health, technology research, etc.. Inside of a very few short years we'd be looking at realizing a Utopian society.

    First of all, no, we wouldn't. Because Utopias don't... can't... exist. This is why Sir Thomas More chose Utopia as the name of his impossible society. In Greek, it means "nowhere".

    Second, whether or not you realize it, you just laid out exactly why Utopia is impossible. You say we should cut defense spending (and even being a lifelong hawk I agree with that), but then you proceed to lay out all the wonderful things the government should do with that money. And that's the problem. That's YOUR vision. Never once did you think "just let people keep the money they earned, and find their own happiness". Utopias fail because they're always someone else's vision of what's good for us... and the "rest of us" have different ideas, thanks.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.