The past week was a week of change at Cape Canaveral. Organizations within Brevard County united to assist workers the will be laid off when the shuttle era comes to an end sometime next year. At the same time the proposal for there to be one more flight added before the program is ended continued this week. Meanwhile the space shuttle Discovery was fitted with new engines and prepped for her final flight - STS-133. (With video)
We also have an additional in depth story by Jason Rhian on help for workers on the Space Coast.
"With some 8,000 space workers facing layoffs at the end of the shuttle program, groups in and around the Kennedy Space Center area are aligning to provide assistance and guidance to help those facing unemployment find new employment. Brevard Workforce Development was recently awarded a $15 million grant to help provide these highly-trained professionals find work in the post-shuttle era. Now the employment-assistance group is putting that money to work with the assistance of other organizations."
Groups Host Job Fairs for Displaced Aerospace Workers
The first of three planned job fairs for this month was held this week on June 17 by Brevard Workforce Development (more commonly known as Brevard Workforce) and the job-placement site Monster.com. On June 2, Brevard Workforce was awarded a $15 million National Emergency Grant (NEG). The grant was announced by Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis during a visit to NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Brevard Workforce has worked swiftly to align itself with groups that are focused on alleviating the problem of rampant unemployment that is looming along the Space Coast. With only two scheduled shuttle flights remaining before the shuttles are retired some 8,000 workers in the region will soon be laid off.
This week's event was held at the Radisson Resort in Port Canaveral. Named "Launch your Job Search" the fair were offered tips on interviewing, networking and how to improve one's resume. This week's event was only the start of Brevard Workforce's efforts to assist aerospace engineers.
Next week Brevard Workforce, will team up with Kennedy Space Center to host a workshop to aid laid off or soon-to-be laid off workers find new employment. The first day of the fair will take place at two separate facilities located at Kennedy Space Center and will have over 40 different business and government organizations attending. This half of the job fair will only be open to current KSC employees. For those already impacted by layoffs there will be a second job fair held for them off of KSC.
An Atlantis Encore? - It's a Possibility
The ongoing push for one more flight in the shuttle program progressed further this week with NASA pursuing a decision by the end of June. Shuttle mission managers are hoping for a final determination to get them of the holding pattern that they have been waiting in. If approved, the extra flight would be used to deliver more supplies to the International Space Station.
An extra shuttle flight would also serve to fill the gap between when NASA delivers cargo to the station and when cargo can be delivered via commercial means. Of more immediate concern it would keep many shuttle workers employed longer - allowing them more time to make the transition to a new career.
Thousands of employees have lost their jobs in the past year. This has been a big concern for NASA managers - and local lawmakers alike. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson D-Orlando has been among those pushing for one more flight for the space shuttle. However, while there are many positive aspects to one more flight - the notion of Atlantis being sent into orbit again - is not without its downside.
Space shuttle Atlantis makes its slow trek from the Shuttle Landing Facility to Orbiter Processing Facility-1. STS-132 was the 34th shuttle mission to the station, the 132nd shuttle mission overall and the last planned flight for Atlantis. Photo credit: Jack Pfaller
In a time of financial struggle proposing to send up Atlantis on a flight that could cost as much as $1 billion - is likely to run into some opposition. There is also the risk involved. Ever since the loss of the space shuttle Columbia NASA has had a policy of keeping an additional shuttle on standby in case it was needed to fly a rescue mission.
Atlantis will already be prepped just in case Endeavour which will fly the current final mission of the shuttle program - STS-134. Since Atlantis would essentially be prepped and ready to go it would be fairly simple to modify it for a final flight. If approved, this mission would take place in June. Although not widely mentioned it is rumored that it may actually be Discovery that would fly this last mission as it has the ability to tap the station's energy and thus stay on-site about four days longer.
Outside of extending some high-tech jobs this additional flight would also serve to ensure that the International Space Station is in the best possible condition for when there will be no more shuttle flights to restock the station. In the end the ultimate say lies with Congress as whether or not to conduct a final mission.
Discovery Prepped for Final Flight
For what could be the last time, the space shuttle Discovery had her Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) swapped out this week in preparation for her scheduled fall flight to the International Space Station. Meanwhile the mission's External Tank (ET) and Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) were mated together and readied for what could possibly an October liftoff.
At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a space shuttle main engine is installed in space shuttle Discovery. Discovery and its STS-133 crew are targeted to deliver the Express Logistics Carrier-4 filled with external payloads and experiments, as well as critical spare components to the station later this year. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller
This week in Cape History
June 17, 1985: NASA launched space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-51G from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew included the first person of Arabic descent, Sultan Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, to fly in space. A total of three communications satellites were deployed during the mission and was the Discovery's fifth flight. The mission ended successfully with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on June 25, 1985.
The crew of STS-51G pose in this photo in their dress uniforms. In the front row from left to right: Pilot, John O. Creighton, Commander Dan Brandenstein and Mission Specialist-1 John Fabian. In the back row from left to right are Mission Specialist-3 Steven Nagel, Mission Specialist-1 Shannon Lucid, Payload Specialist-1 Patrick Baudry and Payload Specialist-2 Sultan Salman Abdelazize Al-Saud
The Cape Week in Review is compiled by Jason Rhian, the Cape Insider, and is a weekly
round-up of what's happening at Cape Canaveral. If you have information or suggestions for the Cape Week in Review please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.