Why the End of the Space Shuttle Will Hurt Workers

End of the Space Shuttle

When it began, it inspired a young president to dream of putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. And now, we are all waking up, because that dream is over.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agency, formed in 1958, saw its final space shuttle launch on July 8, bringing an end for now to NASA's mission of sending people into outer space. There's simply no more need for the space plane program started in the 1970s.

As it has spearheaded the changing of the guard at NASA, the Obama administration has made it clear that the end of the shuttle is by no means an end to American space exploration. Rather, it's a refocus.

"Simply put, we're putting the science back into the rocket science at NASA," White House science adviser John Holdren said in 2010 as the end of the space shuttle program was announced.

But while the hope is that the transition will allow American space exploration to adapt to future challenges, the immediate run could see an estimated loss of 9,000 jobs in Florida alone, according to a report compiled by CBS News. (Contractors at the Kennedy Space Center have already announced the termination of 7,000 positions this year.)

Speaking on behalf of his state on CBS's "Early Show," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio saw the lag as a symbol of America's failure to compete.

"From now on, we have to pay the Russians $50 million-an-astronaut to send Americans to the space station. And we have no plans to have anything in place to replace the shuttle any time before 2016. For Washington, it should be ashamed it took so long to deal with this, and that something's not in place. But it's important for America moving forward, because China, India, are investing heavily in their space programs. We cannot afford as Americans to lose space supremacy."

Indeed, the drop in employment is sure to extend beyond the Kennedy Space Center, which itself has a staff numbering 13,000.

With no more people being launched from Cape Canaveral, the so-called Space Coast in Florida is expecting a lessening of its commercial appeal.

"We may sell," 82-year-old Tom Foley, the owner of Space World U.S.A., told The New York Times. "We just don't want to give people the impression the store is giving up on the space program."

Space World is the oldest NASA memorabilia shop in Florida.

The NASA bust couldn't come at a worse time for the Sunshine State. Floridian unemployment was most recently registered at a rate of 10.6 percent in May. The figure is the fourth-worst in the Union.

Mindful of the shock to Florida's economy, President Obama has promised the moves are being made in the long-term interest of protecting American space exploration and its attendant industries.

"The bottom line is: Nobody is more committed to manned space flight, the human exploration of space, than I am," he was quoted by AP as saying last year. "But we've got to do it in a smart way; we can't keep doing the same old things as before."

Among his stated goals is eventually sending astronauts to Mars and, by 2025, at least reaching beyond the Moon.

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Beach Walker

The loss of the shuttle program and this inevitable shutdown to nothing of NASA will be just as big of a demise as the market busts recently. The cold war, the space race and the manned missions are the biggest technology producers this country ever saw. If you think HDTV or faster computers for video games, or a faster internet is going to lead the US into the new technological revolutions, we are all nuts! Technology and innovation will disappear as we fall behind in this race too get humans off this overpopulated planet. We don't want to solve the population problem and this is the only alternatives solutions, Space and beyond. Just ask Columbus or Magellan about expansion to new worlds because of new valuable resources and population expansion. This should be the biggest government and corporate welfare program our wonderful government bureaucrats should ever invested in because it is the only one with expected results and dividends. “To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before”! Sorry if it wasn't a quote I would say No Person.

July 13 2011 at 6:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Tixree Nosain

I think its pretty stupid to end a program before something is made to replace it.


July 11 2011 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shirley Davidson

War changed a great deal, diverting money from the Space program and almost everything else
that Americans took for granted. America is broke, not down to the last penny but getting there
at break neck speed. Russia was smart enough to know that Afghanistan broke their back and got
out. Our leaders have yet to learn that. Big mistake, Iraq and Afghanistan. We will pay for the" Bush Folly" for decades to come.. The" support the war lovers" are just getting a taste of what perpetual war costs a nation. It's well over a trillion + and that's just what we know about., Bye, bye, Space travel.

July 11 2011 at 6:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't you just love it? Talk about exporting jobs, kill NASA and pay the Russians 50 million PER astronaut to go to a Station that WE built; what a National trajedy. The unemployment goes farther than jobs, it kills a braintrust of thousands that design and test the thousands of systems in the Shuttle. They aren't just going to fill out a resume and go to work for Wal-Mart you fool. Their careers are over and they are being thrown on the scrap heap of American technology. The real American trajedy is Obama.

July 11 2011 at 4:18 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

keep american space shuttle all the time...
no no end

July 11 2011 at 3:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

just more JOBS the GOVT, shipped out of the U.S.

July 11 2011 at 1:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My God you people are ignorant. Here is a little information of what the NASA Program has helped create: Cordless power tools and appliances, smoke detectors, Clean water units, home insulation, lasers for heart surgery, body imaging, digital mammography, infrared thermometer, telescopes to help locate cancer, breathing systems such as ventilations, the jaws of life rescue tools, Visar, aluminum alloy, knee braces, scratch-resistant lenses, cell phones, solar panels, GPS, Satellites, memory foam, pacemakers, shoe insoles, artificial limbs, flat panel TVs (LED’s), self-locking fasteners, the space program has helped the environmental movement with improved insulation, air and water purification systems, sewage treatment, solar energy, noise abatement, energy saving air conditioning, wireless communications, environmentally friendly lubricants, and electric cars (solar powered moon rover). Aircraft anti-icing systems, video enhancing and analysis system, Firefighting equipment, engine lubricant, interactive computer training (virtual software) I mean really people, do any of you wonder where this stuff comes from? You know there is so much more that NASA (by accident) has help create such as clothes, blankets, and on and on. So for someone to bash a program that has helped create so many jobs that make the above products but many more amaze me.

July 11 2011 at 1:35 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Princess's comment

That is a hilarious list, and I am sure it is often quoted by people trying to justify an ridiculously expensive shuttle program.

Please explain to me why cordless drills would not have been invented without the space shuttle?

I guarantee everything on that list would have been invented with or without the space program.

Most scientist agree that microgravity is one of the least important variables in research. Using the same money for research here on earth would be far more effective, and will actually create more jobs. Oh and by the way each shuttle flight cost $450 million, so paying the Russians $50M per astronaut is a bargain

July 11 2011 at 5:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dschiefs2's comment
Bruce & Claudia

What planet did you come from? Does it really matter that we would have had those things eventually. We had them ahead of time because of a dedicated program. Please be good enough to name just one of those scientists that your crowing about.

July 20 2011 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Bruce & Claudia

Great comment. I'm sure you could go on all day with the accomplishments of NASA

July 20 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not only will this hurt jobs, but it will stifle scientific research, and the subsequent products, from which we have all benefited. I'm talking plastics, microwaves, heart monitors, telemetry, GPS, micro-chips, computers, and hundreds of other products that we have reaped d/t the "Space Program". Every time, they (politicians &/or liberals) want to cut spending, they want to cut NASA. Well, I've got news. We actually see progress & scientific innovation with NASA. What we get from Welfare, or what ever name they're calling it now, is more single parent homes, living at the poverty level. Drop out of high school, &/or get pregnant, and then wonder why you can't find a job. It's because you have no education, and job training costs. It costs enough that it takes employers 2 years to recoup their job-training costs.

July 11 2011 at 12:50 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

So..Trillions of Dollars and what did we learn? Bees can make honey in space. Sounds like a U.S Government American Tax Funded Agency to me.

July 11 2011 at 12:35 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to stevelauper's comment

Well, we learned how to make superior plastics that are used in medical treatments- like artificial kidneys used in hemodialysis. We learned how to do heart monitoring & telemetry, cutting the deaths from Heart Attacks significantly- Coronary Care Units were a direct result of the technology used in the "Space Program". We learned how to make superior computers, that we can take everywhere. We've used what we learned to have available to most Americans: microwave ovens & transmitters, GPS; micro-chips used in computers, automobiles, airplanes, trains, ships, etc, cell phones, and hundreds of other "gifts" of modern technology, that weren't available when i was growing up. I was around when the "Space Program" was started- Do you know, that initially, they weren't sure if the human body could survive in an environment without gravity? When the early Apollo launches were "just" orbiting the Moon, and they lost the radio signal, they didn't know if they would be able to re-acquire the signal? When they scheduled a launch, they programmed the parameters into Three Different Computers- They took the Two that Matched! If you've had a friend or relative who was severely ill, and treated in a modern intensive care unit (either for Preemies, Heart patients, Neuro Patients, Trauma patients, Burn Patients, etc.), They Have Benefited. For What Was Accomplished by NASA & the brave men & women astronauts who risked their lives,and some lost their lives, I Thank You!

July 11 2011 at 1:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You've all made good money in the U.S. space program. Take it and move to China. They will pay good bucks for your knowledge and experience (which the U.S. no longer seems to want), and it's a whole lot cheaper to live there. The government is one thing, the people are totally another.

July 11 2011 at 12:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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