News / USA

    US Space Shuttle Program Nears End of its Voyage

    Space shuttle being transported at the Kennedy Space Center
    Space shuttle being transported at the Kennedy Space Center

    Multimedia

    Steve Mort

    The U.S. space shuttle program comes to an end this year, and a debate is underway over what should replace it. The retirement of the shuttle fleet could result in massive job losses in Florida.

    Thousands of workers protest in Titusville, Florida over plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs at the nearby Kennedy Space Center.

    Space shuttle worker Alan Newton expects to lose his job when the shuttle program ends this year. "I'm planning on doing whatever I have to to find another job. As much as I don't look forward to it, I do know that I'm going to have to," he said.

    Since NASA put a man on the moon in 1969 Florida has been the hub of American space exploration.

    The region around the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral even calls itself The Space Coast.

    The U.S. government estimates NASA boosted Florida's economy by around $4billion in 2008, and generated more than 40,000 jobs.

    The Dixie Crossroads restaurant in Titusville depends on business from space workers. Its owner, Lauralee Thompson, says she is worried about a future without the space shuttle. "People don't tend to go out and eat a lot when they don't have a lot of money. So, you know, the impending layoffs at the Cape are a major concern for us," she said.

    Political and business leaders are scrambling to find ways to soften the economic impact of the layoffs, meeting recently in Orlando to discuss options.

    One projection indicates that 23,000 jobs with direct or indirect ties to the space industry, could be lost in Florida within a year.

    Mark Nappi from United Space Alliance, NASA's largest shuttle contractor, says job cuts at the Kennedy Space Center could be just the beginning. "For every job that's created by the space program, there are jobs that are affected by that. If I lose my job and I'm not out buying cars, I'm not using the doctor, I'm not going to restaurants. Obviously there's a trickle effect out into the economy so there's a loss of jobs as a result," he said.

    Some shuttle workers had hoped to get jobs developing a rocket and capsule to take astronauts back to the Moon by 2020.

    But the Obama administration says it wants to scrap the program, known as Constellation, following an independent panel's finding that NASA lacks the resources to see it through.

    Instead, the White House favors using private operators to carry astronauts into orbit.

    Shuttle worker Jeffrey Bell argues NASA should continue with Constellation. "Let's not have to rely on other countries and private industry. Let's keep the jobs, let's keep the community, and let's move forward," he said.

    Space Florida, the agency responsible for developing the state's aerospace sector, says it is trying to attract new industries that use space-based technologies.

    President Frank DiBello predicts workers will be able to find jobs once the shuttle program ends. "It's an available pool of skilled labor talent that other industries covet. We want to be able to apply them to new generation space programs, but also we intend to diversify Florida's economy," he said.

    Some of these NASA workers claim efforts to redeploy their skills in other areas come too late with just four shuttle missions remaining.

    President Obama is set to visit Florida in April to host a conference on his administration's plans for space.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora