Florida vs. Alabama

Today is Florida Space Day, when representatives of the state’s space industry as well as Space Florida meet with state legislators in Tallahassee “to discuss the challenges we face in ensuring Florida remains at the forefront of the nation’s space program.” And that challenge, according to an article in today’s Orlando Sentinel, may be based in a neighboring state: unless “some miracle” revitalizes activity at Cape Canaveral in the near future, aerospace workers will leave the state “in droves” to take jobs with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Huntsville, Alabama.

According to the article, United Space Alliance is in discussions with the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce to help secure positions with the MDA once the shuttle is retired; that effort would provide some guarantee for current shuttle workers so they’ll stay with the shuttle program through its final flights rather than leaving sooner for other work. (Exactly what the local chamber of commerce can do to help guarantee those government jobs isn’t clear.) As the article notes, there’s not much Florida officials can do about this other than root for budget cuts to the MDA by the new president, who “has not been a big fan of the system”.

This issue, though, may be something of a distraction from the internal problems facing Florida, including criticism of Space Florida and its effectiveness (as chronicled in The Space Review and the Sentinel in recent weeks.) As the Sentinel reported last week, industry representatives agreed to participate in Florida Space Day only if Space Florida’s $4-million budget request was removed from the agenda.

2 comments to Florida vs. Alabama

  • Charles in Houston

    The Sentinel is sometimes the source of odd statements.

    This one jumps out at me: “USA has been talking to the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce about securing jobs with the Missile Defense Agency after the shuttle is retired” since it sounds like the MDA might agree to leave some jobs open for months – until the Shuttle retires and the hardware is all dispositioned and the workers are ready to move. That leaves them vulnerable in case the Shuttle slips, things take more time, the workers drift off to other areas, etc etc etc.

    The contractor with MDA (possibly USA?) could not hold the jobs open – they would get slammed for non-performance, by the government. They would surrender lots of money, since they could not charge hours to the contract.

    Besides, many of the Shuttle jobs are hourly but MDA jobs would be professional – unless MDA is going to build hardware in Alabama. MDA must be doing R&D and ops and professional jobs in Alabama.

    As the Shuttle retires, and as MDA moves to Huntsville – the hourly workers at KSC will drift away. And before the professionals can move – the jobs in Alabama will have been given to cheaper, younger employees.

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