Congress, NASA

Shuttle jobs hearing today

The space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee is holding a field hearing today in Florida on the future of the shuttle workforce at the Kennedy Space Center. Actually, though, only one member of the committee is expected to be in attendance: subcommittee chairman Bill Nelson (D-FL), although Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), who is not a member of the commerce committee, will also be in attendance. The hearing it split into two panels, one featuring top NASA officials, including administrator Mike Griffin, and one with state and local officials.

There is, of course, a lot of concern in Florida’s Space Coast region about their future with the retirement of the space shuttle and estimates that over 6,000 jobs could be lost during the transition to Constellation. “Sen. Nelson wants to hear from NASA whether they have any plans in place to help mitigate the (job) losses,” a Nelson spokesman told Florida Today. “He wants to know (if they are) planning on transferring any work to Kennedy Space Center to help minimize those losses.” (Such transfers would seemingly result in job losses at other centers, raising the ire of other members of Congress, but this side effect isn’t explored in the article.)

In addition to the hearing, an organization called Link to Launch is planning a rally this morning outside the hearing site to “provide a visual, high-profile opportunity for people to unite and show lawmakers the importance of space to our community.” Rally organizers told Florida Today that they’re hoping for 6,400 attendees, one for each job projected to be lost. The timing makes that estimate perhaps a bit optimistic: given that the rally takes place during normal working hours, it will be a challenge to get that core audience—people who have shuttle-related jobs and are worried about losing them—to attend. (One solution: bring the whole family, according to the Link to Launch web site. “We HIGHLY encourage you to bring family, friends, church members or anyone else interested. Children are very important to this event as they represent our future of the Space Program.” [capitalization in original])

6 comments to Shuttle jobs hearing today

  • Mark Daymont

    I wish other members of the committee could have been there. The panelists did a great job of expressing their best appraisal of the situation.

  • gm

    .

    after 2010 the Shuttles can be modified to fly CREWLESS and FILL the GAP between 2010 and the first Orion launch in 2016:

    gaetanomarano.it/spaceShuttle/spaceshuttle.html

    then, they can be further modified (to be SAFER for the astronauts) and used for ALL the cargo only and crew+cargo ISS missions until NASA/USA will withdraw from the ISS program in 2020:

    gaetanomarano.it/articles/015safeShuttle.html

    so, the new Orion and its launch rockets could be opimized and used ONLY for Moon missions… maybe, developing a bigger and better Ares-5 to land much more cargo (than planned now) on the Moon:

    http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts/031poorcargo.html

    this way, NO JOBS WILL BE LOST

    .

  • Mothball a space access system to build a new system to access space seems wasteful . A successful civilian space program is built around expanding the number of launch systems available not shrinking them.

  • As long as federal space policy is focused on jobs in key congressional districts, rather than about accomplishing goals in space, we’ll continue to be mired on the planet.

    Or at least, there’s no prospect for federal space policy to do anything about that. The best we can hope for is that they’ll stay out of the way of those who actually want to accomplish goals in space.

  • Charles in Houston

    Fellow Skeptical Observers Of The News -

    Digressing, for once, from a direct discussion of the optimal direction for the space program, I note that another imperfect science is the production of “news”, to wit:

    He wants to know (if they are) planning on transferring any work to Kennedy Space Center to help minimize those losses.” (Such transfers would seemingly result in job losses at other centers, raising the ire of other members of Congress, but this side effect isn’t explored in the article.)

    Why do news organs (an appropriate comparison since Floriday Today often reminds me of an appendix) report so shallow-ly? Is this a good direction, to encourage one area to define victory as moving jobs to your area, rather than generating new opportunities? As Space Politics points out – if those jobs move TO that area, where do they move FROM? Why don’t the news organs ask the next logical question?

    Not that the Houston Chronicle is any better of course.

    One problem that even NASA has recognized is that the various Centers compete and not always in a positive manner. For good reason, the One NASA initiative was created. Should Florida’s gain be Alabama’s loss? Or Texas’ loss?

    A related topic is, as Rand pointed out here, the need to spread jobs around. A truely commercial operation would centralize launch preparation, training, etc etc. For good reason, flight control was first done from Florida, before moving to Houston.

    Anyway, reporters often show more regional loyalty than news analysis skill; probably the editors realize that they need to sell ad space. Too bad we could not have flown Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson on the Shuttle, that would have been NEWS. Maybe Christi Brinkley might yet be available??

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