NASA hopes to shuttle former employees into new jobs
NASA workers look on as space shuttle Atlantis is towed back to its hangar on July 21 at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
July 26th, 2011
11:38 AM ET

NASA hopes to shuttle former employees into new jobs

NASA is holding a career fair in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday to help its former contract employees to find new jobs now that the shuttle program is ending.

Among those who will be rubbing elbows with government and private recruiters are some of the engineers NASA hired to maintain the shuttle's 20 different systems - "every part of the shuttle that required a team of engineers and technicians to get it ready for the next flight," said Lisa Malone, a NASA spokeswoman."

Over the years, NASA has been downsizing those teams, with Cape Canaveral seeing the most layoffs, including 1,500 on Friday, Malone said.

"I would say the lion's share of (the layoffs) has been in Florida," she said.

According to a fact sheet from NASA, the agency plans to lay off 2.223 Florida "shuttle prime contractors" in fiscal 2011, for a total of 4,371 layoffs in Florida since 2008. At the end of the year, NASA expects to have laid off 9,425 shuttle contractors nationwide since 2008.

In addition to engineers, NASA's  contract employees included accountants, human resources personnel, "everything it takes to run an organization," Malone said.

Workers have known about impending layoffs, in some respect, since President George W. Bush announced the end of the shuttle program, Malone said. She said NASA and the recruiters hope about 1,000 former employees will come to the career fair and apply for new jobs.

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Filed under: NASA • Space
soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. ex-engineer

    With so many engineers and tech workers already unemployed it will be a long hard road for many.
    In this economy an engineer over 35 is unemployable.
    Companies want young and cheap not experience. Right now the house is debating weather to import hundreds of thousands of tech workers into an already abysmal job market. The socialist manipulation of the free labor market using non-immigrant visas such as the H-1B has lead to a rapid decline in the numbers of american students entering STEM fields. With the closing of our manned space program a new generation of STEM workers will be further disenfranchised.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ex-engineer

      Yes, I used the wrong "weather" no need for the grammar police to comment.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      You think Americans don't enter STEM fields because foreign workers are smarter and work harder than they do? Do I have that right? You don't think Americans are capable of competing against foreign workers? If that's true, then that means it is not socialism, it is capitalism. The brightest and hardest working get the jobs. No discrimination based on whether you are an American or not. That is the American way of doing things. Don't call importing tech workers socialism, that's just incorrect. It is called capitalism. Compete and win or lose. Children born in America are not able to compete with foreigners, we bring in the foreigners and make them Americans. That is the basis of our nation.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • vp

      the capitalist companies are the ones bringing in all the foreign workers to improve their profits. dont know what part of that is socialism

      July 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astro-boy

      I agree with vp – I work in the tech industry and a lot of people here are from India. In my experience, they are no better qualified than their American counterparts, but all of them accept less in salary so they can get and keep their visas. So, the companies that can't offshore work (e.g., call centers) bring the people over here, but still pay them slave wages.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ram


      You are wrong where it matters. Yes, the H1B crowd in the IT industry are purely worthless. The Government is atleast on the right track : by imposing stricter norms.

      On the other hand, for extremely technical jobs (hard core research), there is almost little chance that a younger generation American can match a Chinese or an Indian scientist. Here is a brutal observation : Some of the so called recent aerospace American graduates in a company (cannot name it for obvious reasons) cannot differentiate between a cross-product of two vectors and the curl of a vector. Do you think that this person can truly compete with an Indian kid who studies Calculus at age 16 and then beats most of his countrymen and comes to the USA (or a Chinese kid who does advanced trigonometry at age 14)?

      Have you ever seen good American scientists. I have !!!!! They are old and belong to a generation wherein there was no "no kid left behind policy". These dudes were as good as any current day Asian (probably even better).

      Do not take offence in me writing the current state of American affairs. I came in as an immigrant, did a PhD, became a scientist and am now a citizen. My kid is an American citizen by birth. I hope that the country improves atleast for his sake.

      July 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. A.Earthling

    I have been unemployed nine of luck in your job search...

    July 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harman

      good luck to you man, i had a pretty rough 2010 but finally landed the perfect job so keep at it

      July 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Astonlad

    Hope they get re-employed soon...they did a terrific job for 30 years, and a safe one too. 133 successful missions out of 135, given the complexity and risks, was not at all bad.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Richard

    The ironly was the ISS, which has been a useless, white elephant worth $150B was created in-part to give jobs to out of work Russian nuclear scientists so they wouldn't build bombs for the Arabs. Instead now, its non-productive drain on NASA and the space program has cost most of these people their jobs, not the cancellation of the Shuttle program. So what is to stop these people from doing what the Russians were persuaded not to?

    July 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questech

      Pick any topic in the world and idiots like you will somehow manage to circle it around arabs/muslims over there. When you don't have guts to comment reasonably, better stay shut.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      not a very convincing scenario these workers will be fine, they will be first in line to get jobs at Boeing and Lockheed.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • thunderkick

      as soon as boeing and lockheed start hiring again

      July 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Former Shuttle Worker

    I worked for the shuttle program for 2 years in Houston TX, just out of college. My degree is in Aerospace Engineering and I was on of VERY FEW lucky enough to find a mechanical engineering design job in the oil sector shortly after my layoff. Many of my former coworkers between the ages of 23 to 40 who where hit in the multiple rounds of layoffs have been searching for jobs for many months to no avail. So to my former coworkers: I wish you the best of luck and I highly recommend the private sector for your future employment.

    Do I think ending the shuttle program is the right thing to do?
    Yes, but not until a replacement is operational.

    Why is a replacement not operational?
    Because NASA can't fund the shuttle, ISS, and Orion/Ares programs at the same time.

    Why can’t NASA fund these things?
    Because its already pitiful excuse for a budget is being continually reduced every year by people with minimal vision of the future and even less common sense.

    "We should spend that money here on Earth anyway!"
    Yeah... because all that space research stuff ain't going to anything you use every day...<-Sarcasm
    The FACT is nearly everything that has been developed for space travel has benefited humanity and if you're too thick to see that then please, never vote in any election this country has....ever!

    July 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Speaking of thick: We can't even keep things straight on our own planet. What in the heII are we doing going out and exploring space for? To find a new home for the top 10? To make contact with new life we can kill in the name of some god or for their neosphithimum (futuristic resource that I made up because space is infinite and I can)? Get real. What did the space program do for the middle class other than flex an arm at Russia during the Cold War and give us access to special beds that we could pay for on credit?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Absolutely. Velcro and Tang are my two favorites...

      July 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian


      July 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astro-boy

      @Joe – how about theat computer you're using to post your comment? Almost all advanced electronics are a byproduct of space exploration.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tomgregg

      I agree. Instead of wasting money in Iraq and Afg the US should be investing in infrastructure and space as well. I am sad to see NASA on the decline. 10, 20, 30 years from now when Russia and China and Europe have kick ass space programs the US will be at a major dis-advantage.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      @Joe – if you happened to type in your response from an iPad sitting at a Starbucks, well, you can thank the space program for that. If you sent in your response by writing it on a piece of paper and licking a stamp and an envelope, then I apologize.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Shuttle Worker

      ahem...well... here are a few benafites NASA has had its hands on creating for space travle that have ended up being of much use to "the middle class"... smoke detectors, transistor radios, microchips, cell phones, fule efficient jet airliners, food staralization and storage, air filters, your precious satalite TV, GPS, kidney dialisys, MRI, CAT scans, ear thermomiters, road safty devices and improved tires, ultra sound, landmine removal, improved structural analysis, cordless power tools, water collection, recycling and purification, artifical limbs, fire fighters heat resistant clothing... oh... and thats just the SHORT list...

      @Joe open your eyes and unplug your ears... or just stay at home on your NASA engineered memory foam bed next time we elect to congress.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      computers preceded space exploration, and aided its development. Obviously the tech coming from dealing with space enhanced electronics- but with all the cancer and decline of society we have now, who really cares?

      July 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Former Shuttle: I will have to look up your huge list of things you cite the space program provided the world. The only thing that stands out as suspect is ultrasound.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      @ joe without nasa we wouldnt have weather prediction abilities we do currently. Nasa helped with satellite images and advanced hurricane warnings abilites, we have far saved more life and money in that realm than was ever lost/ spent for NASA.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astro-boy

      Electricity also preceded space exploration, as did explosive accelleration. It isn't that space exploration invented computers, it's that it improved at a greater rate than normal development. The need for small, independent computer systems moved us away from the mainframe and to the portable laptop.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • NASA Engineer

      NASA technology spin-off webpage:

      July 26, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Fair enough, I retract my sentiments. But I do still say, much of that technology could have been developed separate from the space program. I don't know the cost or the tax impact and I am not saying that the decision was the right one- but it does seem like at this time, America cannot afford that luxury when staring at a 14 trillion dollar debt AND considering that the US uses 25% of the world's oil, and most of that goes to the military and space program, and the resource is finite- I think you can agree that some change had to occur. Maybe not this one- but something.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fried Garbage In, Fried Garbage Out

      Joe: Your ignorance is astounding. Here's a novel idea which you would never come up with on your own: do some research before you mouth off. I'll give you ONE example of how the space program has helped the middle class. PC's. Oh, that isn't an important thing?

      July 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radar Engineer

      I am extremely lucky to be an engineer with a well-sought skill and (currently) employed, and am very worried about our future. Sadly, companies who are employing engineering and tech people downsized dramatically in 2008-2010. Those that were left are working 150% capacity. The companies then became addicted to the new bottom line, so there's no reason to hire anyone new. This further complicates the technology hiring landscape, sadly against the thousands more leaving with KSC or USA pink slips. Further disturbing is NASA's desperate PR campaign that the ship is not sinking. The ship has sunk. If someone doesn't execute immediate recovery action, the total abandonment of space by the US is final.

      I can't understand how we can enjoy so many space technology benefits and walk away. Pretty much everything around you owes it's existance to NASA's space pursuit. The United States space program has died with a whimper.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astro-boy

      I agree that this, like all government run programs, are poorly managed and budgeted. They could all do a lot more with a lot less. Reminds me of when I started programming in the '70s. With memory measured in kilobytes and speed in kiloseconds, you had to be very concise in your programs. Now, most programs I see are huge, sloppy, and not as efficient as the ones we wrote back then.

      And yes, most of what we have today may have been developed without a space race but, as with war, these kind of things tend to push discoveries where otherwise they would have taken longer. Basically, a corallary to the, "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" That is, if we don't have a pressing need for something to be improved, most people would rather stick with what they already have.

      As a business consultant who advises companies on how to improve their systems, I run into this all the time. Even when they call me in, they don't want to take action on my recommendations. Usually they wait until something "blows up", then they decide they need to improve their system.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @ Astro- thank you for your informative replies. Hopefully other people will read them and see- as I think it is quite evident we do take a lot for granted and don't really know where it all came from. Hopefully other people like Mr. Garbage will take a moment to learn how to better address difference of opinion from your posts as well.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astro-boy

      You're welcome Joe. It is nice to be able to actually discuss an issue without resorting to name calling or other derogatory tactics.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • NASA Engineer

      @Joe – NASA is less than 1/2 % of the nations budget ($18.7B – 2012 request), so I am amazed that you say NASA is a place to cut. We launched a payload which resulted in an insulin closer to the human version (unlocked crystal growth due to low gravity growth). You won't get that kind of research and development on earth with the same results. Health industry is making a profit. Taxes are being paid from that. Investment returned.

      July 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @ Former: I admitted that I am not saying this was where the cut should have been made, nor do I know if it should have been made here, nor do I know the overall cost of sustaining the program. It LOOKS and SOUNDS like a really expensive luxury when you saw it the way that I did: as an individual lacking some knowledge on its entire form and function. I still think there was a lot of waste in the program, which is probably why I wrote it off without more investigation. I will not deny its relevance to our advancement and importance to our world's benefit after having talked to people more knowledgable. I will, however, still contend that in light of current issues, it taking a back seat to priority seems understandable and ultimately, unavoidable.

      July 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I meant at NASA, not Former. Stupid CNN forum misinformation.. mumble... grr... grrgl.

      July 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • NASA Engineer

      Not sure what waste you think there was. But if it was there, I'm sure NASA tried to eliminate it. We are proud Americans too. Its our taxes too. We have a saying, we are stewards of the taxpayers dollar. We have lots of rules to make sure we stay out of jail for that reason. And I went from private industry to government and was amazed at how hard these government employees worked. Nothing like what the public thinks. Maybe we are too big and we will shrink because of the shuttle program ending. But we won't "waste" your money. And yes I'd rather be working than on welfare (more than your 1/2 cent for every dollar of taxes for technology, 7.5 cents for welfare)

      July 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • O

      Well gentlemen, how about this: it's not a question if NASA produced any value for the country, the question is at what cost and should government be involved? To those who can't stop listing NASA's great inventions; do you think funds would be better spent as direct research at universities rather than useful side effect of space exploration?

      July 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • panzerman13

      Ahhh, finally some truth for all the idiots out there.
      Outstanding post!

      July 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • NASA Engineer

      Guess O is one of those people that thinks the earth will last forever, too....

      July 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CSnSC

    @marty, if you need a flux capacitor you dont have a correct matter/anti-matter injection ratio.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      There is only ONE matter/anti-matter ratio.... 1:1....

      July 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Richard

    They are out in space because being human means more than feeding the seething masses. If all we do is exist, then were probably don't deserve to.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Thomas

    Looks like 1969 all over again.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lewis

    @Former Shuttle Worker
    Yeah, let's just ignore the famines in Africa so we can spend billlions to fix a telescope so we can see really cool pictures far out in the universe, very benficial.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • snow

      You, sir, are a moron! You want to reap the benefits that come out of the research, but do not want to promote development. If it were for people like you, we would still be in mud huts and hunting with sticks and stones.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @Snow- life was simpler then. And since our high-tech life is killing the planet and people en masse, and we can no longer afford to maintain the facade, I hope you know how to make a mud hut and use sticks and stones.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Shuttle Worker

      the food storage and crop research done from satalites is being used right now to greatley increase crop yeild accross all nations, food surpluses = food for africa...

      @lewis Open mouth, insert foot

      July 26, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      @lewis, just how many tax dollars do you think goes to NASA/NSF/NIH? Anyone with any forethought would recognize that it is far too little.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric R.

      Anyone complaining about famines in Africa should be out planting rice and corn for them instead of sitting behind a computer monitor slamming the best space program the world has ever seen.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • person of interest

      Yeah, lets!

      July 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      But we always ignore the famines in Africa and we really don't care as a society one bit. Even if we had more money, we wouldn't use it to save the lives of those suffering in Africa. Look around on these blogs about all the people saying to stop spending money overseas and spend it at home. They aren't just talking about the wars, they want to stop AIDS prevention and treatment, let alone NOT helping African famine victims.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    Shouldn't you be able to find a job in finance?

    July 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Halcyon

    Republican's Jobs Plan:

    #1. Fire government employees.
    #2. Hope someone in the private sector will hire them.
    #3. ???
    #4. Profit

    July 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Shuttle Worker



      .... Aim??? what...wait?

      July 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lori

    Learning about our planet and it's future (not to mention the fate of theuniverse- which kinda ties in to why we are here in the first place) is um a little more important that "some" things. But then again there 6 billion idiots on this planet who don't seem to care about that.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ian

    There really ought to be some sort of media campaign headed up by NASA to give examples of how the space program has improved our lives. Far too many uninformed people from what it looks like.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pete

    I would assume the smart ones have built up networking contacts at the contracting companies that make lots of space shuttle, tank, and booster parts, like Lockheed and Thiokol, just to name two.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JO

    They all belong in jail for committing lunar landing fraud.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Woody20

      Haha... that literally made me LOL in the office.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
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