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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs