Cape Canaveral reverberated with the effects of politics this week. One of the Republican candidates for Florida governor stumped around the area as space contractor giant United Space Alliance (USA) laid off another 900 employees.
This however did not dissuade Kennedy Space Center Director from predicting a bright future for the space center.
Republican Candidate for Florida Governor visits Kennedy Space Center
On July 30 Republican candidate for Florida Governor Bill McCollum capped off a day's worth of campaigning in Brevard County by being briefed by local leaders within the aerospace community. McCollum emphasized his support for expanding business opportunities along the Space Coast.
McCollum's visit included a tour of Kennedy Space Center's (KSC) Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) where the payloads that are sent to the International Space Station are prepared for flight. McCollum also spoke with Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana.
The discussion was organized by the Economic Development of Florida's Space Coast, an organization with the mandate to maintain the region's high-tech infrastructure. Around a dozen aerospace leaders detailed what they described as a plethora of opportunities to diversify the economic base in and around the KSC area. These leaders explained that it was possible to have KSC - not just be a leader in launch operations - but also in the areas of management and maintenance.
These leaders promoted efforts to assist the development of commercial space and want to attract both space and tech jobs to the region. Thousands of high-tech jobs will be lost when the space shuttle retires next year.
McCollum has expressed his strong support for the space industry and reiterated that he would work to keep space and tech-related job sin the area. McCollum stated that KSC has a bright future ahead of it even though the short-term outlook is less-than-promising. McCollum is squaring off against Rick Scott in the Republican primary.
NASA Hosts Community Leaders Breakfast
On July 29 at 9 a.m. EDT, NASA held its annual Kennedy Space Center Community Leaders Breakfast. This event took place in the Debus Conference Facility which is located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This event is held annually to give local leaders the opportunity to communicate their ideas to one another in a relaxed setting.
This year approximately two hundred community leaders, business executives, educators, and state and local government leaders attended. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana attended and provided a general review of activities at the space center and to also provide a prediction as to what the future of KSC holds in store.
USA Announces More Layoffs
United Space Alliance (USA) gave notices to approximately 900 space shuttle workers that they would be laid off come Oct. 1. USA handles much of the work that is done on the space shuttle fleet. The aerospace contractor stated that it has planned for some time to reduce the shuttle workforce as the shuttle era draws to a close.
It is estimated that some about 8,000 employees at Kennedy Space Center will lose their jobs when the shuttles are retired. USA has plans to cut some 15 percent of its personnel that work in Texas, Florida and Alabama.
Those employees who are laid off will receive assistance in transitioning into new careers. A number of job fairs, workshops and forums have been held to help these workers update their resumes, seek further education and find employment.
There currently are only two scheduled flights remaining in the shuttle program. If a third mission is not added the shuttle program will end in March of next year when shuttle Endeavour completes mission STS-134.
This Week in Cape History
July 29, 1985: Twenty-five years ago this week NASA launched space shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51F. Located in Challenger's payload bay was the Spacelab-2 payload. Spacelab-2 experiments covered a wide-range of scientific studies. These included; life sciences, plasma physics, astronomy, high-energy astrophysics, solar physics, atmospheric physics and technology research. The flight is more commonly known for the abort that took place when the number two space shuttle main engine (SSME) malfunctioned on the first launch attempt on July 12, 1985 at T-3 seconds. It is also known as the Coca-Cola versus Pepsi flight where the soft drink manufacturers offered up their products to the astronauts. However, due to low cabin pressure - both products were extremely fizzy.