US Senator: NASA Job Losses Could Generate Jobs for Russian Space Program

It’s not good news, but it could be worse. On Monday, NASA announced that it anticipates shedding 3,000-4,000 jobs in two years once the Space Shuttle fleet is retired to make way for the Constellation Program. This is obviously terrible news for the staff, scientists and engineers and their families, but it is in improvement on previous estimates that up to 8,000 personnel could have lost their livelihoods. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin confirmed that about 3,000 jobs would be saved by filling positions in the new space program that will build spaceships to supply the International Space Station and eventually take man to the Moon and Mars. However, the early Shuttle retirement and late Constellation completion will increase the dependence on Russia to provide access to space…

In April, Nancy reported that NASA could cut 8,000 jobs mainly around the Kennedy Space Center where the Shuttle launches are administered. Although job losses were to be expected during the Shuttle-Constellation handover, this high figure will have come as a shock, not only to NASA’s workforce, but the whole space exploration community. Today’s announcement will come as a relief as although 6,000-7,000 Kennedy Space Center employees will be lost, around 3,000 will be relocated to the new exploration program, most likely based at Cape Canaveral.

This news has surfaced from a two-hour hearing at Port Canaveral, on the doorstep of the space center where officials, residents and protesters attended. About 1,000 people had gathered earlier in the day for an outdoor rally before the morning meeting.

America – one small step, one giant voice
America the place for space
– Slogans written on rally protester’s banners this morning.

Protesters this morning (Canaveral Port Authority)

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, chairman of the space subcommittee and ex-astronaut who flew on Columbia in 1986, organized the hearing so concerned employees could have direct communication with NASA officials. Although the news was still tough to swallow, Nelson was upbeat about Griffin’s announcement. “I can’t say it’s good news, but it’s certainly news that’s a step in the right direction,” he said. The Senator also suggested that the forthcoming presidential elections may be fruitful when trying to find a change in policy for space exploration funding.

For now, workers at the site will have to wait until 2009 until a clearer picture emerges. In 2010, NASA has been instructed by the government to wind up Shuttle operations so a new focus can be set on Moon launches.

Nelson voiced concerns that these cutbacks at NASA will have the effect of “generating jobs in Russia to accomplish the same mission,” as once the Shuttle is retired there will be a dependence on the Russian space agency for access to space. Griffin responded by saying the situation was “unseemly in the extreme” but ultimately unavoidable. More NASA funding would be required to bring the new Constellation program into operation to fill the 5-year gap (from 2010 to 2015) in US launches to the space station. Nelson has also voiced his concern that the area could be economically damaged during this time through job lay-offs, identical to the situation in the 1970’s when Apollo was decommissioned and the Shuttle made its first flight in 1981.

Sources: Link to Launch, Associated Press

16 Replies to “US Senator: NASA Job Losses Could Generate Jobs for Russian Space Program”

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using Russian help for certain stuff.

    Isn’t it about time science became international cooperation ?

  2. I imagine that *any* engineer with NASA on his or her resume is not going to find it difficult to get another Job. Could there really be a more notable reference in that line of work?

    As far as Russia getting more jobs, well that’s the way the ball bounces. We’re all working toward the same objective regardless of who is punching keys and outsourcing work has been a staple in our economy for a few decades now.

  3. Here is an opportunity for the United States to redirect it’s NASA engineering and technician talent to work on our countries troubled infrastructures. Just about everything the citizenry is dependent on requires some form of serious overhaul. Hopefully congress will get it’s act together and start thinking what’s best for mainstreet America.

  4. I will be interested to see how many of those who worked on the Shuttle program will be moving to SpaceX, Bigelow and others. Their experience would undoubtedly be welcome there. On the other hand, I would imagine the 3000 personnel NASA hope to retain would be the most experienced and talented ones..

  5. Certainly bad news for the people involved, but if we’re ever going to develop a sustainable space program, besides getting the government out of the trucking business, we need to get rid of the standing armies required to launch a few government employees into space a few times a year.

    SpaceX and others are on the right track, with using about a dozen at the launch site, and maybe 30 total in launch operations. Not to mention the ability to turn around from launch abort to launch in about an hour.

  6. Its always sad to hear people loosing their jobs. However, this could be good in such a way that the Scientists and Engineers that lost their jobs could open up a new set of jobs which could be could good for our own planet.

  7. Seems the Russians successfully exported their war in Afghanistan to us, allowing us to expand on it. Now we plan to export out space program to them, which they will no doubt also expand upon.

  8. not exactly a comment on the matter in hand here,but just looking at the shuttle pic i noticed it has just passed the sound barrier, looking at thewave at the front,or am i wrong???

  9. damn ! you people just have to complain about eveything
    learn some russian and shut up
    i think its a great idea , finally!

  10. I remember the loss of top people that carried slide rules in there top pockets at the end of the apollo project ! Dont let it happen again. Keep these people in the loop even if the are farmed out to private projects.

  11. Chuck Lam :

    I agree with you 100 %

    All technology will pass to other nations , just look at Sony and electronics manufacturers in general and so we lose jobs in the USA ….nothing new …

    And , our secondary educational system is not providing us with many students capable or interested in pursuing careers in Science , so our graduate schools are being filled with foreign students…

    The flip side is we have more and more couch potatoes watching the boob tube than in other nation and , above all , we need to spend more money on the poor and their problems …

    So let all these NERDS and GEEKS move to Russia and China and Japan and India and Europe if they like and want to work in the Space program and have careers in Science and Mathematics.

    A Vote for Obama will help insure the above trend and the state of affairs will happen even faster…

    Nothing lasts forever , and it may be just our turn to become a second rate power and fall by the wayside.

    So, just let the Exploration of Space and the Quest for chasing New Frontiers up to the rest of the world ..
    We don’t need this , just as long as we can purchase our HD Tvs and other Hi Tech stuff from the other nations so all our mental midget couch potatoes can watch Real Role Models like Paris Hilton and Michael Vick perform whats really important …. namely Sports and Modeling .Basketball and Football and above all ….Video Games and Text Messaging in School to avoid thinkin about what the Science and Physics and Math teacher sare boring the kids with…

    An even more watered down educational system is what Obama will deliver and so he can provide us with a future generation of even more couch potatoes and mental midgets…that way we can insure that more and more scientific jobs will be turned over to Japan and Russia and India and China and Germany so our kids can just sit back and CHILL…..

  12. Having been reincarnated from the last Roman Empire its just De Je Vu for me.
    I luved those orgies and glutonony while watching the Lions vs Gladiators to see who gets to play the Chosen Few or the Barbarians who got a bye into the finals.
    All paths led to Rome and I thought it would never end .
    We were a superpower for a long long time and we didn’t have any jobs to export back then …no one did anything but cater to their hidden desires and it was so wonderful.
    In this new life I have to work three jobs and I wish they would export all of them so I can draw unemployment.

  13. Hey, that’s just the way the world is.
    Just as manufacturing & the money markets are run by INTERNATIONAL concerns,, NASA’s fortunes are just the same as any business or goverment department.
    lay-off & outsourcing are rthe way of the world.

    in a country that uses the Free-market model to run their economy, this not only makes sense,. but is inevitable.

    i’m not saying it’s right or wrong (that;s a whole other set of arguments I wouldn’t get into), but this ‘Cold War’ thinking seems to bypass a basic business or economic ideal, fundamental to business in NASA’s home country.

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