Layoffs Await NASA Workforce

By: CBS Email
By: CBS Email

With the launch of Atlantis three weeks away, Barbara Kennedy is focused, and not just on the job at hand...

Inside the launch control center, Kennedy has worked on EVERY space shuttle launch for the past 24 years. But once THIS mission ends, so does her job with United Space Alliance, NASA's biggest contractor.

Barbara is a single mom with a son heading off to college. On July 22nd, she'll be unemployed. She says:

"I'm thankful that we have another launch to keep us busy, so it kind of keeps your mind off the impending deadline. But it's coming. And you think about it a lot."

23-hundred shuttle workers will lose their jobs in July, on top of 43-hundred who already have. Brevard County has lost more jobs in the last year than any other county in the state.

Florida's Space Coast is trying to lure new companies with incentives like tax breaks and grants for employee training, but they see the vast NASA talent pool as their main draw.

Lynda Weatherman says:

"If you think about it, we have an area of workers that are three generations deep in working in the space industry. You can't, there's not an incentive in the world that can create that."

It was a big selling point for Brazilian jet maker Embraer. The company opened a new 80,000 square foot assembly plant here in February. So far, they've hired 18 former shuttle workers.

Phill Krull, managing director of Embraer says there are nearly 5,000 people applying for 200 jobs.

Defense Department contractor A-A-R moved in down the street in April, bringing 225 jobs. Joe Urich was hired six weeks after being laid off.

AAR Airlift Employee Joe Urich says:

"I feel badly for my past co-workers who are still unemployed. It's hard to see them struggle at the same time while I'm being able to maintain."

Barbara Kennedy spends all of her spare time at job fairs and networking meetings. She's selling her house, down-sizing, and sending out resumes.

"There's good days and there's bad days. Gee, what am I gonna do. It's just it's uncertain. So you do get a little nervous about that. But I think I never give up. Just never give up."

Determination that helped her rise at NASA and just may launch her into a new career.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ted Location: DC on Jul 21, 2011 at 05:19 PM
    Governor Scott has made sure McDonald's is hiring again just in time for those layoffs after last shuttle launch. Huge tax incentives for McDonald's Corp.
  • by Ted Location: DC on Jul 21, 2011 at 05:18 PM
    Govenor Scott has made sure McDonald's is hiring again just in time for those layoffs after last shuttle launch. Huge tax incentives for McDonald's Corp.
  • by Anon on Jun 20, 2011 at 11:51 PM
    Don't you people know that Obama said the number one priority for NASA is for Muslims to feel good about their contributions to space? And sadly the guy is going to be re-elected again.
  • by You Get What You Deserve on Jun 20, 2011 at 03:51 PM
    NASA employees can place the blame on the people they voted for- President Barack Obama and Senator Bill Nelson.
  • by jes on Jun 20, 2011 at 03:32 PM
    let private industry fund and develope the space program. Why should taxpayers support an industry which a CEO can do a better job. I thought the baggers wanted this? Lets just privatise all government functions and leave it up to CEO's to make a profit. No more taxes. If you need the fire dept. contract it with the fire corp. your self. Someone is breaking in to your house use your credit card for the police corp. to send some one out. I thought this is what conservatives want. No government.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 20, 2011 at 01:44 PM
    obamas the anit christ why would he want you to be able to leaves the earth. he needs us to stay down here so we cant see what hes built in space. the end of days are coming with obama at the fore front better watch out everyone. fire and brimstone will come and lakes of fire will take us all down to obamas real home
  • by Al Location: Texas on Jun 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM
    Nobody who's been paying attention to events on Planet Earth the past few years should be at all caught by surprise by these disappearing jobs. The Shuttle program has been on the path to shutdown since January, 2004, when President Bush announced the last flight would be in 2010 (it's slipped a little). What's a shame is that NASA massively blew the program to produce some sort of replacement Apollo-like system during the second half of the past decade, so we're now stuck with nothing for at least the next few years. Unless the commercial spaceflight companies can get up and running sooner, which is possible but by no means a sure thing.
  • by Steve Location: Marietta, Georgia on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:05 AM
    [Florida native, resident] What happened to "Orian?"
  • by Here is Comes Location: Tallahassee on Jun 20, 2011 at 06:01 AM
    Let the "Look What Scott has done now" people with their tragically misinformed opinions about how he is killing jobs in Florida. Before you all start the Scott Bashing, NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Do you see the word Florida in that title?
    • reply
      by Nteligent dude on Jun 20, 2011 at 04:30 PM in reply to Here is Comes
      If he hadn't of cancelled the train, people could ride it to see the launch and the laid off space workers coulda had them jobs. It's Rick's fault.
      • reply
        by Anon on Jun 20, 2011 at 11:49 PM in reply to Nteligent dude
        What launch?
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jun 21, 2011 at 07:05 PM in reply to Anon
          I think that sarcasm went over your head. If the shuttle program is cancelled, there are no launches. If there ever would háček been a HSR train, it wouldn't have taken people to a nonevent.
  • by Jim Location: Gadsden County on Jun 20, 2011 at 05:43 AM
    Change-Hope Obama
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