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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid