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. Andrew

    I don't really care that the shuttle program is ending. It was old, outdated, and such a money sink that we never needed to develop new methods of low earth easy space transit. Sure, it was a really cool project, but it was well past its time to be put to rest.

    What really (expletives removed), however, is that congress didn't just slash NASA's budget, again, but the house appropriations committee voted to cut the James Webb Telescope. We've already spent over 6 billion dollars on it, and they're now saying 'pull the plug'? Remember what happened when we did that to the Superconducting Super Collider? We killed the project, and CERN took over the science... years and years later. It was a setback for research worldwide. Fermilab is just about dead, and the US no longer produces very much interesting particle physics research, that'll go to CERN at the LHC.

    So naturally we decide to scrap the successor to the Hubble? Really? If you want to cut NASA's budget, fine, but don't pretend that you know where the money should be spent more than NASA administrators. Don't tell them to cut the most adventurous and important scientific undertaking NASA has planned. The shuttle pales in comparison to what we stand to learn from the James Webb, and these guys in congress really believe they know what research is the most beneficial?

    To all of you out there who care about space and science, I urge you, spread the word to as many people as you can, to anyone who will listen.

    Save the James Webb Telescope!

    July 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • travis knownothing

      That's so well-friggin-said, it's not even funny

      July 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • aboule13

      Hmmm I didn't know about any of this... interesting

      July 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Bah, what has science ever done for us anyway. God solves all of our problems and has for at least 4000 years. Besides, its not like Europe, Canada, China and other places won't take it all over. Why should America try and lead when doing so would cost the wealthy a few extra summer homes?

      July 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGuest9

      The SSC was politically motivated, not scientifically motivated, therefore, it was located in Texas, just like the Johnson Space Center. When they started running into problems with the site (fire ants, water-in the desert, go figure), costs began to sky-rocket. Congress killed the funding for the project. It would have been larger than CERN, and we would have likely beaten the Europeans to finding the Higgs boson by now. They should have just enlarged Fermilab, but it will be shuttered soon, too. Want to study science or engineering? Learn German or French and get a passport!

      July 27, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      AGuest9, that more or less sums up my entire argument. Yes, sure, the SSC went overbudget (And so has the James Webb), but it would have kept the US solidly at the forefront of scientific research, rather than hand it over to the Europeans. The LHC was just recently completed, the SSC could have been running ages ago. Killing the James Webb would have the same type of debilitating impact on US space research, it may have cost more than we expected, but the research it stands to offer is staggering. Congress should quit pretending like it knows which ventures are more deserving of research than others. Congressmen are not scientists. They lack the qualifications to decide where money is best spent. The James Webb Telescope has the power to illuminate far beyond what the Hubble could, but apparently in the US, scientific reserach really doesn't matter.

      RIP Fermilab. (PS. As a dying breath, the Tevatron recently detected a new particle, Xi-SUB-B, it's nice that the project isn't going away silently)

      July 27, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Scott Sund

    Just wanted to say thank you and congrats to those who helped me...."Ratchet", "Fingers", Dr. John George, Professor Bob Boll (deceased), and Dr. Tatoo (a wonderful USN enlisted man who earned a PHd in Aerospace Engineering); all from Parks College and USN. Thanks Ernie. Glad you made "Star".

    July 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MariaD

    Job and Carrer Fairs are all BS. They will probably only hire 1 or 2 people from the thousands that show up. All HR people know that this is PR for the company that they work for, and the Fairs are just to get their companies' names out there for markeing them to the community. Don't ever waste your time at one of theses things. No one that can, or really wants to hire you, will be there, only junior HR staff will be there to put all the resumes in a pile to throw out later. Contact the hiring manager at the company you want to work at, and call them. Networking is also good, but not with thousands for other unemployed people.

    July 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willow

      Excellent points.

      July 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • futurelawyer2005

      With spelling like that, I can see why you'd have such a hard time at job fairs and your subsequent hatred toward them.

      July 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grant

      Oh contrair!! I work for a cutting edge eCommerce company who is in a hiring mode right now and I am right now contemplating telling our HR folks to look specifically at those NASA engineers as potential candidates for 6 positions I have open. You don't know what you're talking about....obviously. You really think that companies looking to bring good people on board aren't looking at those folks? You're kidding, right?

      July 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marine5484

      Well I went to a job fair and was offered a job right away opposed to putting out my resume to job site after job site. If you want a better chance to get a job.....go to a job fair.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. RoyL

    Congress could use some of the Rocket Scientist to fix and re-engineer Washington.

    July 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • jasie

      The only problem is we will now be paying Russia billions to haul our astronauts into space. Another one of Obama's "spreading the wealth" policies. More of our money and our jobs to other countries.

      July 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGuest9

      You can't hire a "rocket scientist" for what they are paid in Washington. Why do you think all of these jobs are contracted out?

      July 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    "Need a rocket scientist? Plenty available."

    ....And thank YOU, B.O., for assuring America's place as the 21st Century's version of Portugal.

    July 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pat

    Let's not forget that derivatives and other exotic financial instruments came from a bunch of "rocket scientists" moving from science work to finance.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Marginal Revenues, Marginal Profit, are all Calculus. All us engineering degree guys have the calculus, now we need to be put to work on the debt problem.

      July 26, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    Why are TAXPAYERS going to continue to support them? Fire them. And the bureaucrats who want to waste money by giving them useless jobs.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • John777

      Satellites tracking emergency beacons are such a waste of money. GPS in police, fire and ambulance vehicles is such a waste of money. Research that has made flying extremely safe is such a waste of money.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. ak

    Sadly, the first man on Mars will be a Russian or Chinese. Thanks President Bush, Obama

    July 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    It's past time to drop the optimism, things keep getting worse in the job market. I graduated an honor society student with degrees in engineering and mathematics. What I will tell you in 2+ years of career fairs, resume's, and handshakes with Human Resource types is this: Career Fairs are the official "We Are Not Hiring, but we are here to Promote Our Company." public relations campaigns. You will always be in a line or 2, or 3 if you're at a real busy fair, be given 20 seconds after handing them your resume'. Expect to be friendly told by every HR rep to "Visit Our Website at and click on our careers link and apply for exciting new positions." So, if you stay home and hit up the website you have the same odds of landing the job. Otherwise, you need a friend who can "get you on." Good Luck, with guys like me on the shelf you're gonna need it.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jayman419

    There may be a few new jobs at NASA that these people can transition into. And a handful of private companies are going to be looking to hire the best and brightest, either as NASA liasons to help streamline the approvals process or to help the private sector take on the responsibilities previously held by our government. But, unfortunately, I bet more than a few of these guys will end up in China, India, or some other country with a nascent space program and the political will to expand their presence.

    I think it's a good thing, in the long run. As soon as there is a Chinese ... are they taikonauts or something?... on the Moon, as soon as their is a Chinese flag planted on another planet by human hands, we will have another moon shot moment.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. erich2112x

    What about security guards at the space station? You know, to keep out squatters from other galaxies.

    July 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jamal Brown

    Jeez, you would thing a Rocket Scientist could get a job. Great job on this economy Washington. Putting our Rocket Scientists out of work now.

    July 26, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. R.S. Hoge

    It is crying to see our Nation's asset to come what looks like end I wholeheatly agree with the astronauts from Apollo to Mercury Missons that we need to keep NASA going. We The United States should not let other nation's gett head in science
    and Technlogy.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. fishhead

    Why all the whoopoola about the space workers ? They must be different from all the other people out of work. No doubt they are deserving all the attention after years of high paying employment for doing little work.
    If they do get a job, they will find that employers will not put up with their arrogance .

    July 27, 2011 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. gary

    What the “journalist” (and I use that term loosely) failed to mention is while George Bush announced the end of the shuttle program, it was OBAMA that canceled the replacement program there by crippling NASA. Surprisingly, his decision has had a major job impact on two Red states, Texas and Florida. I am not saying that was his only motive since by kneecapping NASA he also reduced our stature as a world leader in space exploration which makes us just one of the muddle of countries and paves the way for the UN to assume a more prominent role.

    July 27, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
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