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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid