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back to article Falling axe strikes space shuttle workers

This Friday, 515 employees of major space shuttle contractor United Space Alliance (USA) will be given their pink slips, and will join 1,550 former colleagues who were shown the door immediately after the landing of the shuttle Atlantis on 21 July. USA - a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin - expects to lay off a …

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Holmes

No shit, Sherlock

Sad to see...... however more than expected once the program shut down. Maybe some of the brighter ones can find employment with SpaceX et al, certainly only the cream of the crop though. Also, the unemployment in the states is huge in the 'high school dropouts' and 'no college' categories, while fairly normal for highly educated / skilled workers, so the skilled engineers / technicians will have no problem finding a job.

As for the middlemen and bureaucrats, who cares? Having so many unneeded paper-pushers on the Space Shuttle project in the first place is one of the reasons the project cost so much and had to be axed. I'll bet that the private aerospace companies will be able to do the same work as the shuttle for a quarter of the cost.

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The cream of the crop?

They'll stay within NASA. They're not stupid, and the very best staff will be retained because they'll never know if they need them.

The people with overspecialised jobs which are totally dependent on the Shuttle and can't have their skills transferred are the ones who'll be hit hardest. As pointed out, though, private space flight is a growth industry. They won't be able to accommodate all of the newly-redundant from the governmental programme, but they'll take at least part of the sting out. And then there's always the option of working with India / China, if the commute's not too bad!

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Unhappy

I genuinely feel for them

Those men and women are in for a crappy Christmas with the economy and jobs etc the way they are. Still, since private sector spaceflight is now in ascendence at least theres some light at the end of the tunnel for all that mass of space expertise. Whether they'll have new jobs in time to buy their Christmas turkeys instead of turkey twizzlers is another matter.

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Ah, Jimmy . . .

You might want to know a couple of things about the cost of NASA. The US Army spent more to air condition tents in Iraq and Afghanistan last year than the entire NASA budget. Just the air conditioning.

I left KSC in the mid '90s because, as an IT professional, I could make more money working in the private sector so I am well aware of the overhead costs within NASA. Yes, they did need some trimming. But I doubt it reaches the level you want to believe it is.

On the other hand no private company will ever do what NASA did because there is no money in it. Much of the technology you use every day would not exist right now without NASA. There was no money to be made from the research that went into putting people in space or men on the moon. Still it was important to the nation so we joined together to do it. The economic windfall was reaped by many companies that will not spend any money on fundamental research. We will be poorer in the future because of it.

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Pint

@netminder

Thanks for the clarification. However a quick internet search confirms that NASA has a MASSIVE budget - just shy of $20 Billion with a "B", and while I can't find any specific numbers, I'm sure a significant proportion of NASA's budget went into the shuttle. Even a small fraction of waste there would run into the hundreds of millions, and while hardly a lot in the US-budget scale of things, it would certainly be enough to keep some research programs going and more boffins in a job.

That the US chose to spend even more than $20bln (my mind boggles at the enormity of that) on airconditioning tents in the desert is just a further indictment of just how stupidly the US allocates it's (borrowed) money. (no wonder they're broke, but that's another story)

I am extremely grateful for the money the US HAS spent on space programmes, and I am aware of the great advances made. My point though was that more could be done with less through more efficient private-sector organisations. You are right that such organisations will not invest so much for pure research as much as for what profit they can make in putting satellites, experimental modules (including from NASA) etc aloft. My hope is that the promise of filthy lucre (space mining?) will drive exploration onwards just as it has in the past (like Colombus going in search of a shortcut to India)

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Unhappy

Meanwhile, at Micky Dees in Orlando....

"previous experience?"

"I was senior supervisor of the LOX pre-heater pump & vavle system for the SSMEs"

"so, is that a yes or no for being able to operate a chip fryer?"

Brothers (and sisters), yes I can spare you a dime.

You people did great things for humanity - it is a shame your government thinks Wall-street bankers are more valuable members of the species.

hmmm... chip fryers? What do you call them.. fry-fryers?

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Anonymous Coward

What do they call a chip fryer?

In the states it is a fryolator. :)

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Trollface

Easy.

Freedom fryers.

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Coat

Re: Meanwhile, at Micky Dees in Orlando....

French Fryers.

MMmmmmm....long pig

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Unhappy

Orion may not last long either

I'm a contractor on Orion and I can tell you we work from one paycheck to the next, always expecting the ax to fall. Lockheed is the prime for Orion and they have been cutting back. If Orion survives until the next election, when Republicans resume a small amount of sanity in DC, then we'll be more secure.

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Alien

We have a number of shuttles..

The problem for these people is that most of them were probably working on systems that were designed in the 70s and maybe the 80s, patched in the 90s and held together with sticky tape and crazy glue over the last decade. On the plus side I imagine a number of them are highly qualified engineers and moving from one field of engineering to another is not too bad as the math(s) is more or less identical. A year or so back at University with a few student loans, a lot of them have it within themselves to re-invent their careers, even if it's outside of engineering altogether.

The problem for us is what do we do when the Cylons arrive?

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