Personnel News: April 2011 Archives

Dick Underwood

Richard Weeden Underwood

"Dick was chief engineer on the production of the first topographic maps of the moon. He was the first person to view every photograph from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and the first 23 space shuttle missions. He also provided technical training to every astronaut who went into space in the twentieth century. During his NASA career he presented 1506 lectures to audiences all over the world. He loved to travel and visited every county in the U.S."

NASA Space Shuttle Contractor Announces Layoffs for 2,800 Workers, Space.com

"The NASA contractor responsible for most of the work of maintaining the space shuttles announced Friday (April 15) that it will have to lay off almost 50 percent of its employees - up to 2,800 workers - after the shuttle program shuts down this year."

Shuttle prime contractor details major layoffs, SpaceflightNow

"Through earlier layoffs and attrition, USA's workforce in Florida, Texas and Alabama has dropped from around 10,500 in October 2009 to a current level of around 5,600. In late July or early August, the company will implement another major workforce reduction, affecting between 2,600 and 2,800 employees across the company. Of that total, 1,850 to 1,950 job losses are expected in Florida, 750 to 800 in Texas and 30 to 40 in Alabama."

USA Announces End-of-Program Workforce Reduction, USA

"USA currently employs approximately 5,600 employees at its Florida, Texas and Alabama sites. The reduction in force will affect multiple disciplines and multiple organizations across the company. The reduction is expected to impact between 2600-2800 company-wide, including 1850-1950 employees in Florida, 750-800 employees in Texas, and 30-40 in Alabama."

Revised NASA Shutdown Plan Submitted to OMB

"Pursuant to OMB Circular A-1 1, Section 124.2, NASA is hereby submitting a revised shutdown plan in the event of a lapse in appropriations, replacing the plan submitted to OMB on December 16, 1995. In this plan, NASA continues to require each NASA Center to provide protection of life and property. The decision on what personnel should be excepted from furlough is very fact specific, and Directors in charge of NASA Centers are in the best position to make detailed decisions regarding the suspension of ongoing, regular functions which could imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property."

Government Shutdown Would Idle All but 500 NASA Workers, SpaceNews

"All but about 500 of NASA's 19,000 civil servants would be furloughed if the Congress and White House fail to reach a deal to keep the federal government operating beyond April 8. Among the employees who would not be allowed to work are those preparing the Space Shuttle Endeavour for its scheduled April 29 launch."

Keith's 8 April update: False alarm - for now.

Notice of Furlough Status for NASA Headquarters Civil Service Employees

"All NASA Headquarters employees, unless individually informed today, April 7, 2011, via an email message from Yvette Coles, Acting Director, Headquarters Human Resources Management Division, are designated as non-excepted. This means that, if funding lapses, you will be furloughed. Our contingency plan assumes that International Space Station activities will continue to protect the lives of the crew members on orbit and the safety and security of the space station. Existing satellite missions in operation also will continue to protect the satellites and the data being collected. In addition, all other activities involving protection of life and property will continue. All other agency activities not determined to be legally exempt will close, including all satellites in development. Our contingency planning for the potential funding lapse includes legal determination of which agency functions are excepted from a furlough. These determinations have been made."

Ala. NASA center cutting up to 300 jobs, AP

"Center spokesman Dominic Amatore told The Huntsville Times on Wednesday that a combination of factors led to the layoffs. He cites the lack of a federal budget for this year, continued funding by stop-gap measures and cuts in this year's budget including nearly $300 million removed from the line-item that funds general operations at all of NASA's centers."

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center cuts spending and up to 300 more jobs in Huntsville, Huntsville Times

"A statement issued by Marshall today said that, "Due to budget constraints, Marshall Space Flight Center officials have conducted a comprehensive review of all institutional procurement and other expenditures and established funding priorities, ensuring that essential Center functions are maintained and that operational capabilities are in no way compromised."

Keith's note: I learned with profound sadness last night that Baruch Blumberg died suddenly yesterday. He was in a small meeting focused upon how to move humanity off this world onto others. His passing was swift - and true to form he was enthused and learning up until his last breath.

Barry was one of those people you only meet once in a lifetime. He was truly a transcendent person - as humble as he was accomplished. Barry was a true Renaissance man in every sense - one who I was deeply honored to call a friend. And he counted many, many people among his friends.

I spent more than one dinner with him, talking about biochemistry, cattle ranching, rock climbing in Wales when he was in his 60s - he even visited Devon Island at an age when most folks have given up travelling altogether.

Barry was a Nobel Laureate and was the first director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. NASA has never enticed anyone finer to join its ranks. Barry's choice for NAI went vastly beyond the norm - and Dan Goldin was the one who made that choice. Goldin entered into another realm of inspiration when he picked Barry to run NAI (Barry had a habit of doing that to people) and that decision will affect the course of Astrobiology for decades to come.

I managed to reach Dan Goldin on Barry's passing. He told me "The world has lost a great man. Barry saved lives through his research on the Hepatitis B virus. He also inspired a whole generation of people world wide through his work in building the NASA Astrobiology Institute. On a personal level, he improved my life through his friendship. Our planet is an improved place as a result of Barry's few short days in residence."

Sean O'Keefe told me this morning that Blumberg "impressed me as a man whose humility was only surpassed by his capacity to inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue the human passion to want to learn from everything around us. He truly was a remarkable man."

NASA is placing the work of another Nobel Laureate (AMS) on-orbit in a few weeks. Maybe something reminiscent of Barry Blumberg could be placed on it ... it would be fitting since Barry truly did know something about everything and yet still sought to learn more up until his last moments on this planet.

Ad Astra, Barry.

- Astrobiology at T+5 Years, Baruch S. Blumberg and Keith Cowing, Ad Astra Magazine
- Web of Stories - Baruch Blumberg - A field trip to Devon Island (video)


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This page is an archive of entries in the Personnel News category from April 2011.

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