Shuttle Workers Face Big Layoffs as Fleet Retires

NEW YORK — Now that NASA’s area shuttles are grounded for good, lots of the jobs that stored the long-lasting program going will go into historical past as properly.

NASA started issuing layoff notices to about 3,200 contractors July 22, sooner or later after Area Shuttle Atlantis and its crew of 4 astronauts landed at NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle, capping a 13-day supply flight to the worldwide area station. The mission was NASA’s one hundred and thirty fifth shuttle flight and the final hurrah of the 30-year area aircraft program.

Mike Leinbach, NASA’s shuttle launch director, stated in a post-landing briefing  that feelings ran excessive on the runway when he and others welcomed Atlantis and its crew house for the final time.

“There have been good feelings that we introduced the crew house safely, and the mission’s full. Definitely disappointment that it’s over, and folks can be transferring on. Hate to see them go away, however that’s a actuality,” Leinbach stated July 21. “I noticed grown males and grown girls crying at this time. Tears of pleasure, to make sure, simply human feelings got here out on the runway at this time. You couldn’t suppress them.”

The Atlantis astronauts, too, repeatedly informed the shuttle employees how a lot they appreciated the years of dedication and laborious work. The spaceflyers made statements on the shuttle runway, then once more earlier than an unlimited crowd as Atlantis was towed again to its hangar for the final time.

“Thanks for all you’ve performed for us,” mission specialist Rex Walheim stated. “It’s been a tremendous journey.”

 

Layoffs forward

With the orbiters grounded and headed for museums, this large spherical of layoffs will considerably cut back the shuttle workforce, which presently stands at about 6,700 personnel, John Shannon, NASA’s shuttle program officer, stated earlier than Atlantis’ July 8 launch.

These employees are not wanted as a result of NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet to give attention to deep area exploration whereas ceding low Earth orbit to business human spaceflight techniques being developed with NASA assist.

The choice to retire the shuttles was made in 2004 by then-U.S. President George W. Bush after the 2003 lack of shuttle Columbia and its crew. On the time, a Moon-oriented area exploration plan was NASA’s new mission. Final 12 months, President Barack Obama cancelled that Moon plan and known as on NASA astronauts to go to an asteroid by 2025 Within the meantime, NASA will purchase seats on Russian Soyuz spaceships to fly astronauts to the area station till American-built personal area taxis develop into out there. 4 completely different corporations are creating automobiles as a part of that plan.

Leinbach stated the years of advance discover for the shuttle’s shutdown have helped put together the work pressure for at this time. There are 4 phases of change: denial, anger, exploration and acceptance, he added.

“We’ve all been by that now within the shuttle program and we’ve accepted the truth that it’s over,” Leinbach stated. “The finality of it, there’s little doubt. It’s over now, and that impacts lots of people.”

However that doesn’t imply NASA shouldn’t shift away from the 30-year-old program, Leinbach added.

“It is a machine that we’ve to retire. It’s a program that’s over,” he stated, including that the shuttle program shutdown isn’t just like the lack of a member of the family or liked one.

“That is the tip of this system; individuals will transfer on and do properly … It’s essential, but it surely’s not the tip of the world. The solar will rise once more tomorrow.”

Cutbacks for all of NASA’s  contractors are anticipated to proceed by the center of August, leaving fewer than 1,000 individuals to handle the method of de-servicing and getting ready the automobiles for his or her future houses on show at museums across the nation, Shannon added.

Discovery has been promised to the Nationwide Air and Area Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Middle outdoors Washington, Endeavour will discover a house at Los Angeles’ California Science Middle and Atlantis can be positioned on show on the Kennedy Area Middle Guests Advanced in Florida.

In April,  Houston-based United Area Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin three way partnership chargeable for a lot of the work to take care of the area shuttles, introduced that it should lay off practically half of its 5,600 staff in late July and into August.

On the time, United Area Alliance estimated that between 2,600 to 2,800 individuals might lose their jobs, “because of the completion of duties associated to day-to-day operations of the shuttle fleet,” in accordance with an announcement from the contractor.

Different NASA area shuttle contractors even have eradicated positions, with extra layoffs to come back.

Internally, NASA flight administrators, who oversee floor groups in Mission Management, are additionally going through a time of transition.

Kwatsi Alibaruho, Atlantis’ lead shuttle flight director, stated that whereas some group members will be capable to discover positions throughout the area station program, others will possible see be required to hunt employment elsewhere.

Earlier than ending the final shuttle flight management shift on July 21, Atlantis’ entry flight director Tony Ceccaci paused to learn an announcement to his group in Mission Management.

“I’d prefer to take this chance to say a couple of phrases, and this would be the final time this group can be collectively,” Ceccaci stated. “Firstly, I wish to thanks guys — my colleagues, my pals within the shuttle flight management room of mission operations.

“It’s been my excessive privilege and honor to work with every certainly one of you and have been a part of this excellent group of people, so devoted and passionate in regards to the work they do,” Ceccacci added. “Every certainly one of you must take nice delight within the accomplishments you will have achieved and know that you’re the primary cause for the success of the area shuttle program.”

Ceccacci thanked the flight controllers for his or her laborious work over time and informed them to really feel immense delight of their accomplishments.

“Savor the second,” he stated. “Soak it in and know you’re the greatest, the most effective on the earth. Your work right here has made America and the world a greater place. It’s been an unbelievable and wonderful journey.”

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