Keith's note: NASA HQ offices in Washington DC area are closed on Monday per OPM.
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Keith's note: NASA HQ offices in Washington DC area are closed on Monday per OPM.
"Dale A. Gardner, an astronaut who helped lead the first salvage operation in space, steering a jet-propelled backpack to corral two wayward satellites and bring them aboard the space shuttle Discovery, all while orbiting 224 miles above Earth, died on Feb. 19 in Colorado Springs. He was 65. His death was confirmed by NASA, which did not provide a cause."
"The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) is inviting customer input on a significant representation issue arising in a case currently pending before the Authority: National Aeronautics & Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, Virginia, Case No. WA-RP-13-0052, 67 FLRA 258 (2014) (Member DuBester concurring). The Authority order granting review in pertinent part can be found here. This case raises a legal question of first impression concerning whether S 7111(f)(3) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and S 2422.12(d) of the Authority's Regulations apply to decertification petitions filed by individuals."
- Decisions of the Federal Labor Relations Authority 67 FLRA No. 65
- Notice of Opportunity To Submit Amici Curiae Briefs in a Representation Proceeding Pending Before the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Federal Register
Keith's note: NASA civil servants working at Wallops Flight Facility have been seeking to decertify the existing union there since June 2013. They claim that union representation is no longer necessary at that location. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has not yet decided if they will conduct a special secret ballot election among those civil servants to decertify the current union at Wallops (American Federation of Government Employees - AFGE).
Keith's note: SETI Institute Founding CEO Tom Pierson has left our planet. Learn more about his life here. Ad Astra, Tom.
"Under Pierson's guidance, the Institute grew from a tiny, narrowly focused research center with a handful of employees to its current status: an internationally known organization that is home to more than 130 scientists, educators, and support staff. While founded to conduct SETI searches, the Institute soon broadened its mandate to encompass all aspects of understanding the nature and prevalence of life beyond Earth."
"Over the last year, security incidents involving foreign nationals at NASA research Centers have drawn the attention of the NASA Administrator and other agency leaders, Congress, and the media. Recognizing the growing threat of cyber-attacks and espionage aimed at government agencies by hostile nation-states and foreign adversaries, NASA asked the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) to conduct this review of its foreign national management processes."
"Frankly, I was taken aback at the breadth and depth of security challenges identified across NASA and I am deeply disappointed the agency has restricted access to the report. The report should be made public as soon as possible, with any necessary redactions in the interest of national security, because it confirms not only the serious security challenges that need to be addressed, but a persistent organizational culture that fails to hold center leadership, employees and contractors accountable for security violations. This must change."
Peter J. Salerno, a senior electrical systems engineer for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for 30 years, died Jan. 6 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. He was 53. He had a heart attack and complications from diabetes, his mother-in-law, Dorothy Boerner, said.
Dr. Richard Battin, formerly of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and the MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, passed away on Saturday, February 8. Dr. Battin played a key role in the development of guidance and navigation theory used in the Apollo Program. His books Astronautical Guidance and An Introduction to the Mathematics and Methods of Astrodynamics have been important references for several generations of engineers in the space program.
A federal union representing NASA employees said racial "bias is robust" in a letter last week to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE) told OPM Director Katherine Archuleta that "NASA's performance ratings are improperly influenced by demographic factors such that, on average, white employees are rated higher than minority employees. The bias is robust across centers and has been a persistent feature over time." The letter from Lee Stone, an IFPTE vice president, said "NASA has two levels of above-standard performance which invites supervisory mischief whereby the highest level often ends up preferentially allocated to friends-of-management, leaving the next tier for high-performing employees who are not plugged-in with management, including exceptional minority employees."
"It is with great sadness that I must provide you with compelling evidence that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been systematically violating 5 CFR S430.208 as well as the 14th amendment rights of its employees for at least the past six years."
Keith's note: This is a serious accusation - one that IFPTE needs to actually prove - i.e. with verifiable numbers, reports, statements, etc. "Mischief" does not a formal case make.
Keith's note: The bad weather on the east coast has pretty much brought the Washington DC Metro and mid-atlantic area to a crawl with bad road conditions and increasing power outages. This will continue through tomorrow. So you can expect NASA HQ, GSFC, Wallops and also IV&V and LaRC to all be running at less than full efficiency.
At many agencies, fears of an exodus, Federal Times
"Among federal organizations with more than 1,000 employees, NASA's Ames Research Center had the highest proportion of retirement-eligibles: More than one out of four of its 1,200 employees are able to retire immediately. That percentage is well above other NASA agencies. At Ames, the staff is "very energized" by its work on aeronautics and space applications, Associate Director Deborah Feng said in written answers. In addition, she said, employees often leave to take jobs at local companies, only to return later on to Ames' benefit."
Keith's note: Randy Stone, former Director of MOD, and Deputy Center Director at JSC, died today after a long battle with cancer.
"Mr. Stone's NASA experience spans Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station. He is a 1967 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Aerospace Engineering."
"Since TCAT was established, the budget environment has remained challenging, and the team's work has gained increased priority. As a result, you may see elements of the assessment or implementation underway at your center. The goal of this effort is to strengthen our centers in their primary areas of expertise. Each center will see increased investment in some areas and decreased investment in others. ... Since this work is so important right now, we have brought one of the agency's most seasoned professionals on board to oversee it. Lesa Roe, currently Center Director at the Langley Research Center in Virginia, will be detailed to Headquarters as the Deputy Associate Administrator to oversee TCAT."
Keith's note: Sounds like Son of ZBR (Zero Base Review) i.e. ZBR 2.0 to me.
"On March 16, 2013, agents from the Department of Homeland Security conducted a border search of former NASA contractor Bo Jiang at Dulles International Airport as part of an investigation of potential export control violations. Jiang, a citizen of the Peoples Republic of China, was preparing to fly home to China. After questioning him about what electronic media he had in his possession and searching his belongings, agents took Jiang into custody and charged him with making a false statement to Federal authorities."
- Attn Frank Wolf: Bo Jiang Had Porn - Not Secrets - on His Laptop, earlier post
- Congress Vs NASA on China (Home Alone with Wolf and Bolden), earlier post
"I'm a contractor," said Liz Lawler, 58, of Clear Lake. "I have no idea if I will get paid for this time off." Lawler was furloughed from her job as a personnel troubleshooter for REDE Critique NSS, a contractor for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, after Congress was unable to reach an agreement to fund the government two weeks ago."
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will reopen at noon Thursday, Huntsville Times
"Still unclear is how many of Marshall's estimated 2,500 civilian contract employees will be back on the job Thursday. But those workers support their NASA counterparts, so they will all be back soon."
Although most NASA employees were not able to work during the 16-day shutdown, some missions were still collecting data and performing key maneuvers. Thursday, some NASA-run Twitter accounts were trying to catch their followers up about what the missions have accomplished since the shutdown began. "Allow me to reintroduce myself," officials with NASA's Mars rover Curiosity (@MarsCuriosity) wrote on Twitter. "I'm back on Twitter & even closer to Mars' Mount Sharp."
"For support contractors working at NASA locations, this means they are unable to do their jobs. To compensate, larger companies are forced to encourage workers to take unplanned vacation time off or try to find other work that they can do elsewhere. Smaller firms often do not have this flexibility; in many cases September 30th marked the end of a contract period of performance. With no funding and no contract in place, small firms are keeping their workforce together at their own risk with no assurance the workers will be paid for the work done during the shutdown. For companies of all sizes, if the shutdown persists, these workers will face furloughs and, unlike furloughed Federal employees, there is no guarantee that will be reimbursed for lost wages. There is a real potential for a negative ripple effect throughout local economies in these regions. Other work that contractors are doing at NASA facilities - including preparations for the first Orion space capsule test launch in 2014 are shut down since contactors are not allowed access to the NASA facility where the work must be performed."
"Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of NASA, including whether the information collected has practical utility; (2) the accuracy of NASA's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including automated collection techniques or the use of other forms of information technology."
"NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the Space Station."
"If a FY 2014 continuing resolution is not passed before 12:01 AM on October 1, NASA can only engage in activities related to the orderly shutdown of operations and performance of excepted activities. As a required part of a shutdown, employees who will not be performing activities excepted by law will be furloughed and unable to work for the duration of the shutdown, unless recalled for an excepted activity."
Due to the gov't shutdown, all public NASA activities/events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.— NASA (@NASA) October 1, 2013
"However, prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month. A lapse would mean that a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding. It would also mean that a number of employees would be temporarily furloughed. To prepare for this possibility, we are working with our General Counsel and our Chief Financial Officer to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations."
NASA Ames Federal Employees Union Memo: Potential Shutdown Looming Yet Again
"With the turmoil of the DOI snafu and its 4-day delay in paychecks fresh on our minds, you need to be acutely aware that a shutdown could have a much bigger financial impact on you and your family, especially given that we would not likely receive retroactive pay as we did after the shutdowns of the 1990's. Please act accordingly and keep some funds in reserve, if you possibly can."
Keith's note: NASA NSSC employees are getting this memo today from DOI (who does NASA payroll). Looks like it may affect other parts of NASA. Someone at NASA HQ who uses NFCU got a direct deposit but another person at NASA HQ who uses a regular bank did not.
September 12, 2013 MEMORANDUM
To: FPPS User Group Representatives
From: Linda Y. Rihel-Todd, Chief //signed//
Payroll Operations Division
Subject: Correction Electronic Funds Transfer for Pay Period 2013-19
The Official Pay Date for all agencies is the second Tuesday following the end of the pay period. Generally payments are provided to Financial Institutions for an early deposit prior to the Official Pay Date. This is routinely accomplished by the first Friday following the end of the pay period. An oversight occurred during the certification process for pay period 2013 19, which inadvertently disbursed the EFT payments after the Friday, September 13, 2013. Efforts to process a new payment file with Department of Treasury was unsuccessful. Therefore, the payments will be made by the Official Pay Date, September 17, 2013. Next pay period we will resume to our normal processing. We apologize for any inconvenience to employees. We recommend you distribute this memorandum or information to your Servicing Personnel.
Keith's 12:50 pm EDT update: The following memo is now being sent around NASA:
"In my June message, I indicated that I would be working to assign SES personnel to positions and would then be validating those selections at Headquarters. I have had a number of discussions with individuals at Headquarters and continue to receive positive feedback and full support. There were a few details that I needed to work out and believe those have been resolved. I am targeting an All-Hands meeting for the week of September 16. There will be more information coming on the date and time."
"While I am sorry to be losing such a talented and passionate co-pilot, I am happy that Lori is continuing to pursue her dreams and make her mark in the aerospace industry. Her last day at NASA will be Sept. 6, and she assumes her new role at ALPA on Sept. 9. I will personally miss her candid and sage advice and good humor. Lori will always be a great friend to me and to our agency."
- Statements on NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver's Announced Departure, NASA
- Deputy Administrator, Lori Garver leaving NASA: Champion of NASA's vision, workforce and U.S. aerospace to join Pilot's Union, IFPTE
- CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria Statement on Lori Garver's Departure from NASA, CSF
- Congressman Fattah Statement on the Departure of NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver
Keith's note: According the NLSI Twitter: "NASA's chief exploration scientist, Mike Wargo, passed away unexpectedly yesterday. We will miss his leadership and friendship enormously." I'll post more information as I receive it. Very sad - Mike was such a nice person and believed in space exploration in a very personal way.
"The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) on behalf of the broader lunar community wishes to expresses its deep shock and sadness at the news that Dr. Mike Wargo passed away unexpectedly over the weekend of August 3-4, 2013. Mike was the Executive Secretary of LEAG and championed the Moon at NASA HQ."
Keith's note: NASA sources report that John Billingham has passed away. John ran the SETI Program Office when NASA used to do SETI. He also ran life science at NASA Ames. John was one of the first people I met when I started to work at NASA's Life Sciences Division in the 1980s. He was not your stereotypical NASA employee - his accent, background, and demeanor - were decidely old world mixed with a dose of California crazy. An M.D. and former RAF officer running NASA's search for extraterrestrial intelligence? That sounds like something out of Dr. Who. That was John - he was always a hoot to be around and will be missed.
John Billingham, SETI Institute
"Captivated by the prospect of detecting sentient beings elsewhere in the cosmos, Billingham joined with Barney Oliver - then director of research and development at the Hewlett Packard corporation - to organize a joint summer design study of the technology and science of SETI. Two dozen academics spent three months considering what sort of equipment was needed to make a serious, systematic search for signals, and where they should point the antennas. Their conclusions, published as "Project Cyclops," became the bible of SETI research for decades to come, and are still important today."
"As you may know, last week the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and extended equal protection to all legal marriages in America, regardless of gender. This will affect the Federal benefits available to legally married same-sex couples. For the purposes of Federal benefits, legally married means that the marriage was celebrated in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.
... Today, NASA will begin a series of communications on Qualifying Life Events inclusive of all legally married NASA employees, their spouses, and their children."
"Joan A. "Jody" Singer, a native of Hartselle, Ala., has been named manager of the Flight Programs and Partnerships Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
In her new position, Singer is responsible for overall management and direction of the office, including an annual budget of $108 million and a combined workforce of more than 500 civil servants and contractors. She oversees the work of the Marshall Center in the areas of human exploration projects and tasks; flight mission programs and projects; and International Space Station hardware integration and operations. The office also is tasked with creating and maintaining value-added partnerships with other government agencies and international and commercial partners that will help achieve NASA's vision. "
"The all-out assault on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is threatening vital on-the-job protections for millions of California workers.
The NLRB is the sole agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law and protecting the rights of 80 million private sector employees nationwide. It's been under attack by both conservative courts and House Republicans seeking to freeze all agency actions. Now, unless the Senate majority acts to confirm all five nominations to the NLRB before the August recess, the right to organize and bargain, the right to labor law protections, and the right to free speech in the workplace will all be in jeopardy."
Quote and audio from the call on the next page.
Keith's note: According to a NASA Watch Reader: "Henry Hoffman passed away last night at 11:30 PM. Henry was a world-famous Attitude Control expert and was portrayed in the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine as "Satellite Saviour." Henry Hoffman has more than six decades of guidance and control systems experience. He began his career in the early 1940's as an Electrical Technician for the US Navy where he supported Navy missile and airborne electronics development. He joined Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in 1962 as the Head of the Guidance and Control Branch."
Walter Murphy: "Walter was an Engineering Manager with NASA from 1963 to his retirement in 1997. His career started at Johnson Space Center, extending to Kennedy Space Center with 2 years at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He came to KSC in 1973 to take part in the development of the Launch Processing System."
Keith's note: NASA Watch readers have reported that Caldwell Johnson died on 27 May.
Caldwell Johnson, NNDB: "Caldwell Johnson grew up within walking distance of Langley Field, then a landing strip for exotic and experimental aircraft, operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He often loitered at the facility, and after showing some staff members his elaborately constructed model aircraft, he was hired straight out of high school by NACA's Robert R. Gilruth."
"National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge William G. Kocol has found the California Institute of Technology engaged in unfair labor practices at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Caltech administers JPL under contract with NASA. In 2011, Caltech issued letters of highest level disciplinary reprimand to five JPL employees because they used JPL's internal email system to discuss the implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the working conditions at JPL. The five employees had been plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case."
Full NLRB decision (worth reading by all NASA employees)
"I reject JPL's contention that it had no choice but to comply with NASA's directives. I start by pointing out that HSPD 12 was not specific as to how the Government was to implement the directive. Other departments in the Government, according to the employees, implemented it a manner less invasive of the privacy of their employees. And the NASA badging requirements morphed and evolved, apparently in response to the concerns voiced by 30 the employees. Finally, there is no evidence that JPL itself could not have sought to influence NASA to address some of the concerns of its employees. NASA and JPL chose the manner in which they implemented HSPD 12 and some employees concertedly complained and sought to change it. The employees have a Section 7 right to do so."
"By issuing written warnings to Robert Nelson, Dennis Byrnes, Scott Maxwell, Larry D'Addario, and William Bruce Banerdt because they engaged in protected, concerted activities, the Respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 8(a)(1) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act. Having found that the Respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, I shall order it to cease and desist therefrom and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the Act."
Keith's note: Of course NASA and JPL will appeal this decision. It would be interesting to see how much they will pay the lawyers (and who pays for those lawyers) who seek to oppose the rights of employees.
Is NASA about jobs, or actually accomplishing something?, Houston Chronicle
"The diversity of these centers, including sites in populous states like Texas, California, Florida and Ohio, ensures political clout for the agency in both houses of Congress. At the same time, NASA has to continually spread work around all of these centers and keep senators and representatives from the homes of each of the 10 happy. Which is to say, first and foremost, saving jobs."
"... All that costs money, and Bolden says NASA's $16.8 billion budget request gets chopped to just $16.1 billion if the seqester is not rectified. "At the $16.1 billion level, there is no way in the world they can continue to operate a center like JSC at the level of employment that we have right now," Bolden said. Bolden laments this would mean cutbacks at all NASA centers, primarily contractors. But furloughs for civil servants, he confides, could also become necessary."
"The IG conducted an independent investigation into the circumstances of how and why the noose was placed at the Bldg. F-5 construction site. The IG's findings corroborated the results of the previous investigations conducted separately by the Office of Protective Services and the contractor. While the incident itself remains disturbing, it's important to note that none of the three investigations found evidence of criminal wrongdoing."
Reader note: "Today JSC started their new "9/80 flex Friday" work plan. They basically work 80 hours in 9 days, then take off every other Friday, BUT, completely out of sync with all the other NASA Centers that already had flex Fridays happening on the opposite Fridays. As a result, some folks at all Centers will have to continue to work on their scheduled flex Fridays. A little coordination on this between CD's would have made sense ..."
"Boeing Co.'s sprawling satellite-making operation in Southern California has just concluded a round of voluntary buyouts in an effort to slash its workforce by 250 to 300 employees. The Chicago-based company said the reduction in its 5,500-employee workforce is necessary because of changes in the way it designs and builds satellites -- not because of a lack of orders or cutbacks in federal spending."
"Instead of resting on past achievements, NASA has always been about reaching for the future. As I look ahead, I see a NASA that is a model organization operating even more effectively than today - a seamless organization that applies resources and talents across our agency as needed. I see an agency that is not constrained by stovepipes or traditional boundaries. Agility and versatility are encouraged, and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars while using the best tools to accomplish our bold mission is a part of everything we do."
Keith's note: I find it to be somewhat ironic to hear this from someone who has done more to foster the implementation of stovepipes (and the installation of protective fences around existing stovepipes) than any of his recent predecessors. Much of this resulted from his chronic inability to make tough decisions or stay "on message" with any degree of consistency. After 4 years, and ongoing talk of who his replacement will be, I guess Charlie finally got the message. Or at least he wants you think that he has.
"In addition, as I have previously stated, at this time, we do not plan to resort to furloughs for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration, and there is currently no change to the Agency's existing hiring policy. Centers may continue to transact hires in all categories as planned in their submitted phased hiring plans up to their FY 2013 FTE ceilings. However, the Congress is currently considering NASA's full-year appropriations levels; and, as the legislative process concludes, we will assess the impact of the new funding levels and whether revisions to our current posture are warranted."
Keith's 22 April note: Furloughs loom across the Federal government. While other agencies openly talk about their furlough plans, NASA is not saying anything. Why is that? It has been a month since Charlie Bolden issued this memo and its mention of how NASA viewed furloughs. Nothing has been issued since then.
Keith's 25 April update: Bolden in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee today: "If we do not come out of sequester for the 2014 budget then we will start to furlough people."
"Center Director Chris Scolese will discuss the findings of an investigation into a recent incident where a noose was discovered in a Bldg. F-5 dorm room during an All-Hands meeting for Wallops employees scheduled from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Thursday, April 4, in the Bldg. E-100 auditorium. All Wallops employees are encouraged to attend."
"In a March 29 memo obtained by The Associated Press, Scolese told colleagues that a contractor employee fashioned a piece of rope into a noose and handed it to a co-worker who was in a bad mood. The noose was left behind and was found by a contractor with another company, who reported it. Scolese said the incident was intended as a joke, but was "deeply disturbing." He said the person who tied the noose has been denied access to NASA facilities pending results of the investigation."
Hangman's Noose Found at Wallops (Update), earlier post
"Next week, JSC will begin offering a second window for employees to apply for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority ("early-out"). We are opening another window due to the Center's FTE ceiling being reduced in FY13, 14 and 15. By offering this opportunity to those who have expressed interest in early-outs, we will be able to continue to balance the skills at the Center and ensure we have hiring capability."
"Dr. Hansen had already become an activist in recent years, taking vacation time from NASA to appear at climate protests and allowing himself to be arrested or cited a half-dozen times. But those activities, going well beyond the usual role of government scientists, had raised eyebrows at NASA headquarters in Washington. "It was becoming clear that there were people in NASA who would be much happier if the 'sideshow' would exit," Dr. Hansen said in an e-mail."
- Why Does NASA Treat James Hansen Differently Than Other Employees?, earlier post
- Jim Hansen Arrested For Yelling or Something (Again), earlier post
"This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that NASA's Explosives Safety Program was poorly managed and exposed personnel and facilities to unnecessary risk. Specifically, we identified 155 violations of regulations, policies, procedures, and processes involving unsafe conditions and practices - some of which could have resulted in significant damage, injury, or death to NASA personnel, contractors, and the public."
"The American Federation of Government Employees is working to address recent indications of racial harassment at the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF). Last week, AFGE has learned of a hangman's noose being placed at a construction site on the Wallops Main Base. It has also been brought to our attention that this is not the first demonstration of racial animus and an intention to intimidate and to create a fearful atmosphere."
"I am anticipating a report this week with the results of an investigation I directed to examine the facts regarding an incident that took place some weeks ago at the Wallops Flight Facility. I want to assure you that I am committed to ensuring a work place that is free of harassment of any kind, and there will be zero tolerance for any employee at GSFC who violates the laws and policies in place to safeguard every employee's rights and expectations of a harassment-free work place."
Bolden Keynote At AAS Wednesday Morning Will Be Livestreamed, Space Policy Online
"NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden will keynote the American Astronautical Society's Goddard Memorial Symposium tomorrow morning, Wednesday, March 20, and AAS will stream the event live."
NASA Limits Travel; No Layoff Plans - yet (update), earlier post
"v. Examples - For example, the following conferences do NOT meet the new criteria and NASA funded participation will not be allowed:
1. National Space Symposium
2. The American Astronautical Society's Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium and Goddard Memorial Dinner"
Keith's note: This is just baffling. Charlie Bolden tells all of NASA that specific meetings are not going to be supported by NASA funds - and then he turns around and goes to one of the meetings specifically cited in his official agency policy that do "NOT meet the new criteria and NASA funded participation will not be allowed" to speak in an official capacity. I wonder if Bolden is using NASA-provided transportation (that limo) to go to this unsupported meeting - and if he will have NASA staff with him - also traveling from NASA HQ to Maryland for this event - at NASA expense.
Bolden Cuts Travel; Buys Toy Telescope Models, earlier post
Keith's update: According to this tweet: @Jeff_Foust: Bolden, on travel bans for this event and Nat'l Space Symposium, notes he came here since it's local, "doesn't cost the gov't a dime." Charlie Bolden thinks he's not breaking any rules. Unless Mr. Bolden drove himself to and from this event - with no staff - in his own car - and took time without pay - then it most certainly did cost the government something. The fact that Bolden is oblivious to this fact speaks volumes. His travel prohibitions will save a vanishingly small amount of money and amount, at most, to a stunt.
Keith's update: According to NASA PAO Bolden was accompanied by one NASA civil servant who drove to/from the event in their own car. NASA will not discuss Bolden's travel arrangements due to security concerns. As such it is safe to assume that he was using government transportation and security - and that costs money. Bolden's presence supported the meeting using NASA funds in violation of his own policy. Was this a large expense? No. That's the point - these arcane travel restrictions will have negligible impact on NASA's expenses.
"Recent guidance has come from the Administration that needs interpretation relative to supporting travel for all NASA activities. These rules will go into effect on March 19, 2013. We are in the process of executing all elements of the guidance and will notify those that are affected. For instance, we have worked with all the NASA Centers and JPL employees and have completed an approved list of attendees."
Keith's note: Charlie Bolden is curtailing NASA travel to scientific and technical meetings to save a vanishingly small amount of money in the grander scheme of things - yet he still allows this solicitation to be put out: NASA Solicitation: Scale Models of the James Webb Space Telescope. So ... toy telescope models trump participation in science meetings? That's how Charlie Bolden sees it.
NASA Limits Travel; No Layoff Plans - yet (update), earlier post
"This guidance is to be applied to NASA employees and to all contract employees, including JPL employees, to extent permissible. Program managers, project managers, and contracting officers should apply this guidance to all NASA direct-funded contractor travel. You should know that Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and I have already begun to adjust our activities in line with these guidelines. We have both canceled travel and participation in the April National Space Symposium in Colorado and I have also canceled a planned overseas trip. ... At this time, there is no change to the Agency's current hiring policy. Centers may continue to transact hires as planned in their submitted phased hiring plans up to their FY2013 FTE ceilings. This includes hiring in all categories, including new intern hires, intern conversions, and all other early career hires."
Sequestration Claims its First Victim at NASA, Planetary Society
"Of special note is that this letter defines "foreign" travel as anything outside of the continental United States. Sorry Hawaii and Alaska!"
"Event planners hoping to book NASA speakers: You have a problem."
@elakdawalla: "As others have pointed out to me, sequester doesn't just limit NASA travel; also USGS, DOE, any federally funded organization or lab."
More than 150 NASA Glenn jobs in jeopardy, Rep. Marcy Kaptur's office says, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"NASA Glenn Research Center stands to lose more than 150 jobs when automatic spending cuts under the "sequester" go into effect, according to the office of Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials told Kaptur the cuts would end cryogenic propulsion research headquartered at Glenn, resulting in the loss of 10 to 15 jobs. A separate $14.5 million sequester-related cut in Glenn's operational budget will cost another 150 support staff jobs, said Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought. "It appears to be a very difficult fiscal environment for NASA Glenn," said Fought."
Sequestration 2013: Hoyer Says NASA Goddard Could See Layoffs, Greenbelt Patch
"While, thankfully, it appears that NASA Goddard Space Flight Center may not be as severely affected as some other NASA centers, we are still likely to see local businesses that contract with NASA and with the military, like many of you here today, take a significant hit," Hoyer said at a luncheon hosted by the Maryland Space Business Roundtable in Greenbelt."
A Scientist's Misguided Crusade, op ed, NY Times
"As a private citizen, Hansen, 71, has the same First Amendment rights as everyone else. He can publicly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline if he so chooses, just as he can be as politically active as he wants to be in the anti-Keystone movement, and even be arrested during protests, something he managed to do recently in front of the White House. But the blast e-mail didn't come from James Hansen, private citizen. It specifically identified Hansen as the head of the Goddard Institute, and went on to describe him as someone who "has drawn attention to the danger of passing climate tipping points, producing irreversible climate impacts that would yield a different planet from the one on which civilization developed."
"Keystone XL, if the public were to allow our well-oiled government to shepherd it into existence, would be the first step down the wrong road, perpetuating our addiction to dirty fossil fuels, moving to ever dirtier ones," warned Dr. James Hansen on Friday. Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is adjunct professor of Earth Sciences at Columbia University's Earth Institute."
Jim Hansen Arrested For Yelling or Something (Again), earlier post
James Hansen Continues To Have Special Privileges, earlier post
Keith's note: Why is it that only Jim Hansen can overtly identify himself as a NASA Employee and say whatever he wants with regard to what he does during his day job (paid with NASA money) and yet other NASA employees cannot? Before the snarky comments ensue, let me say that I agree with 90+% or more of what he says. That's not the issue. I am just baffled as to why he gets a special pass by NASA.
"We have learned that NASA has severely restricted travel of NASA and JPL employees to the 2013 IEEE Aerospace conference. This is impacting many of the authors at this year's conference. I, on behalf of the conference board and the conference committee, want to extend our condolences to those who are affected by the restrictions, and provide the following guidance with regards to paper presentations."
Reader note: "Of course sunk costs like registration ($1000), lodging, and many flights are long past the opportunity to be refunded, so we're not actually saving much money and causing a lot of trouble for employees, some of whom have personal expenses that will not be reimbursed."
"NASA's situation is somewhat unique from many other agencies. We have safely and efficiently phased out the Space Shuttle Program and managed existing programs to conservative spending levels. This has postured us so that we do not plan to resort to furloughs at this time for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration. Nevertheless, this still will be a difficult situation for our team and industry partners, and will have problematic consequences for our mission."
How Sequestration Could Hit NASA Projects, Information Week
"Unlike the Department of Defense, which has said that it will furlough federal contractors in a move that could hit many IT workers, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver has said that NASA does not currently have plans to furlough civilians in the event of sequestration."
"[Bolden] said when you are talking a loss of funds, that means loss of jobs, and that is why he is so concerned. He said the big impact will be a lot of those businesses that NASA partners with. Some of them are on or around Redstone Arsenal."
NASA employee at KSC arrested on forgery charges, Click Orlando
"A NASA employee, who works at Kennedy Space Center, was arrested on forgery charges on Thursday 38-year-old Candrea Thomas, an employee in the Public Affairs department at the Kennedy Space Center, has been booked into the Brevard County jail, according to Brevard County Sheriff's Office. Deputies said Thomas faces 5 felony charges for allegedly forging documents."
Thursday, December 13, 2012
JSC TODAY HEADLINES
1. Joint Leadership Team Web Poll
2. Gangnam Style Parody 'NASA Johnson Style' to be Screened in Teague ...
Annual Embarrassing NASA Holiday Videos Appear, earlier post
"NASA was named the best place to work in the federal government among large agencies in a survey released today by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization. This ranking, which reflects NASA's highest results since this index was developed, makes clear that the agency's work force is focused on carrying out the nation's new and ambitious space program. The rankings are based on responses from nearly 700,000 federal workers."
Keith's 10 Dec note: I never understand the purpose of these videos since everyone in them just looks ... well ...
Keith's 11 Dec update: The video has now been made private. You can see a preview here. Lots of Star Wars costumes, women wearing fuzzy antlers, cheerleader uniforms, etc. IMHO there were too many antlers and not enough cowbells.
Keith's 11 Dec additional update: The video is viewable again. The responses to the posting of this video are hilarious. Let me summarize: Several dozen NASA people make a video wherien they act overtly silly at work. They then go out of their way to tell NASA Watch about it. Surprise: I posted a link. If they did not want to be seen being silly by others then why did they make a video, post it on YouTube, and then tell NASA Watch about it? As for those of you who do not get the "cowbell" reference, you really need to watch more Saturday Night Live.
FWIW had there been YouTube when the Space Station Freedom Program Office in Reston was operational in the 1990s you can rest assured we'd have out done these JSC folks with our antics.
Protecting and Safeguarding NASA Information and Information Systems (page 6), IT Talk, July-September 2012, NASA CIO
"What if this article was the national headline across the United States? Is NASA protecting and safeguarding its information and information systems? Is it possible to protect and safeguard information and information systems 24/7?"
Keith's note: Well, it happened. No fancy cyber break-ins occurred. No massive network failure was at fault. Nothing complicated or deliberate happened - the sort of stuff where overt high-tech protection and safeguards would be called into play. Instead, a NASA employee was dumb enough to leave an agency laptop with sensitive information in her car such that it could be stolen. And that laptop had a substantial amount of personal information on 10,000 or more NASA employees that the CIO's office was inept enough to allow to be on a laptop taken out of NASA in the first place.
The CIO's own official publication openly talked about what might happen if the theft of a NASA laptop with "10,000 employees private information" became "an actual NASA Headline". But instead of focusing on the real world where people can and will do dumb things, the CIO focused only on all the complicated technological threats to NASA's IT. The CIO utterly ignored simple human behaviors that could be just as damaging as a cyber attack if not dealt with. Other than than a memo (2 weeks after the theft) to employees announcing an emergency disk encryption program and a half-hearted attempt to assist employees in case of identify theft, the NASA CIO has done absolutely nothing to address the core issues at hand. And now the NASA CIO cannot even bear to mention this situation on her own website - with the exception, of course, of this hypothetical article written months before the event.
JPL workers seek federal probe into stolen NASA laptop, Pasadena Star-News
"Rep. Schiff, who oversees NASA funding through the Appropriations Subcommittee and whose district includes JPL, issued a statement criticizing NASA security. "I will be calling on the agency to report on and accelerate its efforts to maintain data Advertisement security," he said. "The low-tech theft of a laptop is troubling enough, but it only scratches the surface of potentially greater data vulnerabilities." A NASA spokesman didn't return a call for comment Wednesday."
"Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) said in a statement she would push the agency to improve data security. "NASA has previously had security breaches of sensitive information," she said. "It has to stop."
"In a 2009 report titled "NASA Needs to Remedy Vulnerabilities in Key Networks," the Government Accountability Office noted that the agency had reported 1,120 security incidents in fiscal 2007 and 2008 alone."
Keith's note: If you go to the NASA CIO webpage or the CIO's blog you will see absolutely no mention of this stolen laptop or the activities that followed. Some of the individuals affected by this event have not worked for NASA for more than a decade. As such, you would think that there would be somewhere at NASA.gov to get information as to what they should do. The CIO page is a logical place to look. Yet another example as to how the entire CIO organization is simply clueless and tone deaf when it comes to the interests of the agency's employees - past and present.
"The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FedView survey) is a tool that measures employees' perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions characterizing successful organizations are present in their agencies. Survey results provide valuable insight into the challenges agency leaders face in ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce and how well they are responding."
National Aeronautics and Space Administration - Rank: 1 Score: 74
"The year was not without challenges, however. For example, due to cost overruns in the James Webb Space Telescope and other projects, NASA had to reprogram funds away from several Agency initiatives. This resulted in developmental delays in some ongoing projects and cancellation of other planned projects, including the ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter missions to Mars. Moreover, the congressional decision to provide NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) with less than half the funding requested by the President in FY 2012 extended to 2017 the earliest date that NASA expects to obtain commercial crew transportation services to the ISS, which is significant if NASA is unable to maintain and utilize the Station beyond its currently scheduled retirement date of 2020."
"A former computer specialist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was not dismissed because he advocated his belief in intelligent design while at work, a Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled. Judge Ernest Hiroshige said Thursday he is leaning in favor of JPL's argument that David Coppedge instead was let go because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp."
Cleveland's Glenn Research Center seeking stability with uncertainties ahead for NASA, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"During an eight-week stretch this summer, for instance, a prominent NASA blogger reported that Lugo was about to be replaced (he wasn't), and a former NASA administrator advising Mitt Romney's presidential campaign warned that the space agency was planning to scrap all human space flight work and eliminate its 244 jobs at Glenn. (Both NASA and the White House issued unusually blunt denials.)"
Keith's note: Charlie Bolden is not happy with the waves that Ray Lugo is making. Lugo has been told to put his reorganization on hold by NASA HQ but it would seem that he is still moving ahead with it. Stay tuned.
Keith's update: This recent Glenn Research Center reorganization attempt by Ray Lugo was in direct defiance of orders given out by Charlie Bolden to all NASA center directors to not shake things up prior to the election. You see, Ohio is a crucial state in terms of this election - and Lugo's actions have caused a bit of a stir. As a result Ray Lugo's days as GRC Center Director are numbered as far as Bolden is concerned. Bolden has shut this re-org down. Of course, there will be official denials - but that's what is going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Bolden has already been admonished by the White House not to shake things up either after his attempt to replace a bunch of center directors. Stay tuned.
Reader comment: "when Mr. Lugo presented the chart to the employees of Glenn Research Center he predicted that some employee would release this to NASA Watch, even though it was made clear that the chart is "pre-decisional", where is the integrity in that."
Keith's update: It still amazes me that a decade into the 21st century that some parts of NASA are stuck in the 19th century.
Bolden Seeks To Replace Multiple Center Directors, earlier post
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 2:56 PM
Subject: Center Ops Reductions
FYI. Attached is more info on the extent of the reductions at Center Operations. A couple of things to take notice of in the attached: facility repairs will occur during working hours, reduced trash pick-ups (may even have to take our trash to a central location), work stoppages, and reduced security patrols."
Keith's note: Check out a larger version of this aerial shot of JSC. Look in the upper left hand corner. That sure looks like an ISS solar array ...
"United Space Alliance says they are laying off over 150 employees across the country -- the majority being here along the Space Coast. USA said 121 of its workers in Brevard County will be laid off. The reduction represents about six percent of their total workforce. Following the layoff, USA will have a total 2,263 employees -- with 1,073 of those in Florida, 1,186 in Texas and 4 in other states. The layoff is due to a reduction in work scope as the Shuttle Transition and Retirement work approaches completion."
"The first human to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, is "doing great" after undergoing cardiac bypass surgery, his wife reported."
"NASA wishes Neil Armstrong the very best for a quick recovery from surgery," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Neil's pioneering spirit will surely serve him well in this challenging time and the entire NASA Family is holding the Armstrong family in our thoughts and prayers. I know countless well-wishers around the world join us in sending get well wishes to this true American hero."
"Today, most of Florida's former shuttle workers have found work, according to a recent survey conducted by Brevard Workforce, which receives state and federal funding to help these highly skilled workers find jobs. Of the 5,690 former shuttle workers who responded to the survey, 57% said they are working, while the remaining 43% are either retired or unemployed. Of the 3,234 who said they have found employment, most of them, 72%, say they are working in Florida. Florida authorities say they've made steps toward transforming the Space Coast into more than just a launch site for shuttles. That, according to the state's Space Coast Economic Development Commission, has helped "put a serious dent" in Brevard County's unemployment rate, which is 9%."
United Space Alliance To Layoff 148 In September, Brevard Times
"NASA Space Shuttle Program contractor United Space Alliance has announced that it will layoff 148 employee on September 28, 2012, according to recent documents filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity."
"A year after NASA ended the three-decade-long U.S. space shuttle program, thousands of formerly well-paid engineers and other workers around the Kennedy Space Center are still struggling to find jobs to replace the careers that flourished when shuttles blasted off from the Florida "Space Coast."
"Drastic cuts to NASA's budget are threatening pay and benefits for Kennedy Space Center's fire and rescue personnel, workers said Thursday, sparking a union protest outside the space center. "We are here today to send a very poignant message to both the company G4S and NASA to keep their hands off what the fireman have already earned," said Kevin Smith, president of Transport Workers Union Local 525."
"NASA faces many challenges including re-shaping the NASA workforce to successfully meet changing mission requirements. In order to refocus the skill mix of our workforce to become more effectively aligned with current and anticipated funded work requirements, each Directorate has evaluated its workforce requirements and has identified eligible categories of positions that may be experiencing either a workforce surplus or that may be impacted by a possible reduction in work requirements and/or reduced funding in the immediate or near future. The eligible categories of positions are based entirely upon a combination of factors such as position competencies, position titles, geographic location, and/or grade levels. Goddard's Buyout/Early Out Incentive Plan has been approved."
"NASA says its 10 field centers employ about 18,000 civil servants and four times as many contractors. These centers, some of which predate the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act that created NASA, house a variety of specialized scientific and engineering facilities, many of which are underutilized today. "I would be less than honest if I told you we need everything we have," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the Committee to Review NASA's Strategic Direction June 27. "We don't."
NASA says there are no plans for human spaceflight cutbacks at Cleveland's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[NASA press secretary Lauren] Worley provided numbers showing that Glenn's workforce had declined by 214 positions between 2005 and 2009, the years during which Griffin served as NASA's administrator."
Mal Peterson: the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing, 28 March 1996 (the posting that began NASAWatch - then known as "NASA RIF Watch")
"Mal Peterson (NASA HQ Comptroller's Office) personally briefed NASA program managers (Centers and HQ) yesterday (27 March) and gave instructions for planning and implementing a RIF by Summer 1997, the reduction to be completed by October 1998, to a total complement level of 17,500, as called for by the President for the year 2000, to be completed by 1998. Vugraphs were shown concerning "the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing." (That is a direct quote)."
"You may have already heard talk of a potential government shutdown that could happen at the end of this week. Although government agencies are preparing for that possibility, NASA will not shut down because our fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill has been approved. Your work schedule and pay will generally continue as usual. While NASA's funding legislation has been approved, the debate continues on Capitol Hill on appropriation bills for many other Federal agencies as well as pending measures to extend the payroll tax cut and Unemployment Insurance benefits."
"NASA has elected to exercise the first of two available contract options for procurement of an additional Tracking Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) from Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc. of El Segundo, Calif. The estimated value of the contract option is $289 million and extends the period of performance through April 2024. Exercising the option will allow Boeing Satellite Systems to retain at least 300 American jobs."
Keith's note: So ... the major point NASA wants to drive home to the media is that this government procurement saves hundreds of jobs. What this satellite actually does is of seconardy importance. Curiously, Boeing (who actually got the contract) makes no mention of "hundred of jobs saved" in their press release.
"Starting at 9a, Speakers from around the center will talk about inspiring students, innovation, and new scientific discoveries. Astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Cadie Coleman will share their perspectives about Earth and space."
Keith's note: You would think that an event like this would be something that NASA would want to share across the entire agency - indeed, with the general public as well. How hard would it be to webcast this? I am baffled as to why things like this end up as choir practice and internal pep rallies and not part of NASA's overall Education and Public Outreach (EPO) activity.
Keith's update: According to a comment from "pamspace": "We'd love for the public to tune in! We are working the final kinks out of our webstreaming process today and do plan to Livestream our event here: http://www.livestream.com/tedxnasajsc. We have a backup plan if this path doesn't work and will post an update if needed. Looking forward to a great event!"
NASA Named One of Best Places To Work in Government
"NASA remains one of the best places to work in the federal government. In a survey released today by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization, the agency retains its ranking of number five. The rankings draw on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Employee Viewpoint Survey of more than 150,000 executive branch employees. The evaluation helps job-seekers assess agencies and federal managers improve their workplaces."
NASA headquarters, four other centers turn to buyouts, Government Executive
"Several NASA locations are offering buyouts and early retirement packages to employees. According to NASA public affairs specialist Grey Hautaluoma, the agency's headquarters in Washington on Nov. 7 offered buyout packages worth up to $25,000 per employee. While 147 employees are eligible for the offer, only 50 packages will be available. Employees must apply by Nov. 18. Four other NASA centers have extended separate buyout offers. The Kennedy Space Center in Florida offered 150 buyouts through Nov. 7, targeting the budget and legal offices, information technology and general administrative personnel. To date, almost all the applications have been processed."
"Andy worked at NASA from 1984-2006, serving as an optical engineer, EOS manager, Landsat 7 manager, assistant chief of the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, and Director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA Headquarters. In 2006, Andy joined The Johns Hopkins University APL's Civilian Space Business Area to lead the Living with a Star Missions. Andy was also the first Program Manager for Solar Probe Plus, which will journey closer to the Sun than any probe has ever gone. Andy was promoted to Program Area Manager for Civilian Space in 2009, overseeing program management for projects such as the MESSENGER mission, now in orbit about Mercury and the New Horizons mission on its way to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt."
Kennedy: Florida snipes at Virginia's launch market competition, Richmond Times DIspatch
"Virginia would never use an environmental study to seek to undermine the recently announced $38 billion American taxpayer-funded civil space rocket booster to launch from Florida's coast. The Space Florida effort is an abuse of federal environmental law process. Worse still, by seeking to deprive Virginia of space business investment and jobs, Space Florida makes clear its desire to establish a monopolistic space launch practice, thereby increasing costs. America needs business competition -- now more than ever. ... It is wrong for Space Florida to gain billions of dollars in federal civil space contracts while begrudging Virginia's right to secure commercial space launch jobs for the Eastern Shore facilities. It is wrong for Florida to seek hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance its space launch facilities while seeking to deny Virginia any small measure of opportunity."
"Enhancing the capabilities of WFF to allow NASA greater collaboration with other federal agencies is commendable and is to be encouraged. However, the potential development by NASA of not only duplicative, but also competing, launch infrastructure for orbital human spaceflight, funded in part by our tax dollars, gives the State of Florida standing in this federal process."
"The most pressing issue for the Florida workforce is the sense of betrayal that their tax dollars might be used in establishing a competing orbital human spaceflight launch capability in another state when they have so well and ably done the job here in Florida. It is recognized that commercial human spaceflight launch capabilities will arise throughout the country and elsewhere over time, but it makes no sense for NASA to be making such an investment."
Keith's note: It is blatantly obvious that Florida's space community is hijacking the intent of an Environmental Impact Statement to inject local and national politics and complaints that have nothing to do with environmental impact. Do these Florida-based organizations issue press releases about these letters? No. Do they post them on their own websites? No. Why? Becuase they know that this is a sneaky, somewhat slimy way to do things.
Former Florida shuttle workers still struggling to find jobs, Orlando Sentinel via Washington Post
"NASA officials predict the KSC workforce will number roughly 8,200 next year -- about half the 15,000 employed there in 2008. A few hundred contractors are giving the shuttles last rites before they, too, join their former colleagues in a brutal job market."
Kennedy Space Center to build new $300M HQ, Orlando Business Journal
"The project will "provide job potential through the design, engineering and construction to transition KSC from shuttles to new government and commercial vehicles," said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. "This complex keeps talent local and enhances our overall competitiveness on the global economic development stage."
"NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is looking to preserve an inventory of processing and manufacturing equipment for current and future mission support. This Request for Information (RFI) describes this equipment, currently underutilized as a result of the transition from the Space Shuttle Program to the future mission activities authorized by Congress. NASA KSC is seeking to identify potential industry interest in the operation and/or maintenance of this NASA property."
"This is my last day at NASA and writing to you is one of my final acts here. In looking back on my career at NASA that began in September of 1973, I have many great memories of working on Space Shuttle, Space Station, and Exploration. The memories are also of many great people like you that I have had the opportunity to work with and the many wonderful friends I have made within this community."
"A major move at the Stennis Space Center is paving the way for jobs and expansion on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Officials said NASA and Stennis are officially taking over the 1.6 million square feet former Mississippi Army ammunition plant, which will become available for new government and commercial ventures that support the NASA mission. "Appropriate investment in the rocket testing infrastructure here at Stennis becomes more important than ever," Sen. Thad Cochran said."
Huntsville-based Teledyne Brown Engineering gets $383M defense contract, Huntsville Times
"After its announcement about plans for outer space with Aerojet, Teledyne Brown is branching out to "marine space." The Huntsville-based company has been awarded a contract valued at $383 million for a replacement craft to transport Special Operations Forces on their missions. The work is projected to add about 50 jobs here. The contract from the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is to design, develop, test, manufacture and sustain the Shallow Water Combat Submersible (SWCS)."
"Doug Cooke, who worked for nearly 38 years in NASA's space shuttle, International Space Station and exploration systems programs, will retire from the agency effective Oct. 3. Cooke most recently served as NASA's associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD), which is responsible for developing capabilities for sending humans deeper into space. Before retiring, Cooke will serve as deputy associate administrator for the agency's new Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate."
Latest round of NASA cutting threatens 600 jobs in Huntsville, Huntsville Times
"The latest round of NASA downsizing is threatening another 600 Huntsville jobs, officials said Thursday. How many will actually be laid off isn't clear, but is expected to be fewer than the number warned in accordance with federal law. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said Friday that NASA leaders told Alabama lawmakers three weeks ago that upcoming layoffs would be in the 200-400 range. "Anything inconsistent with that, that's disappointing," Brooks said."
"More than 1,000 workers at companies that worked on the space shuttle program will leave their jobs for good in August. While at least one major space shuttle contractor is laying off more employees than it projected in the lead up to last month's final space shuttle mission, at least two -- Houston-based United Space Alliance (USA) and Chicago-based Boeing -- will issue fewer pink slips in August than initially predicted."
"NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released an audit that found abuse in a NASA program that reimburses Agency employees for academic courses leading to undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees. This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review concluded that NASA's decentralized management structure, coupled with a lack of strong internal controls, resulted in more than $1 million in questionable tuition payments to employees. Federal law prohibits NASA from funding academic degrees for civil service employees except through planned employee development programs that meet an identified training need, resolve a staffing problem, or accomplish the Agency's strategic goals. However, the OIG found that NASA routinely paid significant amounts of money to reimburse employees for academic courses taken outside its formal degree programs."
Nearly 300 more aerospace jobs threatened in Huntsville, Huntsville Times
"Nearly 300 more aerospace jobs are threatened in Huntsville as Marshall Space Flight Center moves to what its director calls "a smaller, leaner center." Jacobs Technology ESTS group notified 281 workers in writing last week that their jobs could end on or before Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal government's new 2012 fiscal year. Jacobs has been Marshall's primary support contractor for engineering, science and technical services since 1989."
"Based on the overwhelming success of and participation with the NASA@Work pilot program, NASA is pleased to announce the official agencywide re-launch of the NASA@Work collaborative program. NASA@Work is an internal collaboration platform that connects the collective knowledge of individual experts from all areas within the NASA organization via a private web-based environment supported by InnoCentive. The platform provides a venue for Challenge Owners, those looking for solutions or new ideas, to pose challenges to internal Solvers, those within NASA with the skill and desire to create enlightened solutions. The Solvers who deliver the best innovative ideas can win awards and will be recognized for their contributions at the 2012 NASA Project Management (PM) Challenge."
DOE, Interior Eye Employees Jettisoned by Space Program, New York Times
"The Energy Department and the Department of the Interior are among dozens of federal agencies looking to hire some of the engineers and scientists from NASA's closing space program. NASA and the Office of Personnel Management held a job fair yesterday in Cape Canaveral, Fla., less than a week after the space shuttle Atlantis landed. All told, about 5,500 contract employees at Florida's Kennedy Space Center have lost their jobs in recent months, and NASA contractors are expected to lay off another 2,000 over the next year. For an area nicknamed the "Space Coast," the end of the space program is a blow. But federal agencies are swooping in to take advantage of a pool of employees they say have skills that are usually hard to find."
"The bill includes a provision that repeals existing prohibitions on the implementation of Reductions in Force or other involuntary separations."
As military-launch costs soar, would-be competitors protest, Orlando Sentinel
"NASA workers looking for a job after space shuttle Atlantis' final flight likely won't have much luck at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which has launched a generation of military and national-intelligence satellites. The military-rocket business isn't doing too well -- at least according to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin that manufactures the bulk of the rockets launched into orbit by the military. Company officials said the cost of parts has gone up, and the uncertainty of post-shuttle work at NASA has resulted in subcontractors raising prices. As a result, ULA is sharply increasing the prices it charges the Defense Department to launch military satellites, prompting the Air Force to raise its projected launch costs by nearly 50 percent during the next four years."
Retirement from United States Navy and NASA, Mark Kelly
"After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country."
"Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), announced Tuesday he would retire Oct. 1.Kelly, a captain in both NASA and the Navy, has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate in Arizona next year. Media reports throughout the state have said Kelly would be the leading choice for Democrats if Giffords is unable to run for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat. The space shuttle commander has said nothing to spark this talk, but his retirement announcement will likely increase the speculation."
Astronaut Mark Kelly; Arizona's next senator?, Washington Post
"Senator Mark Kelly? That's the question in political circles this week. The minute Kelly, 47, announced his retirement from the Navy and NASA Tuesday, the behind-the-scenes speculation that's been brewing for weeks went public: Will the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords run for office himself?"
Boeing lays off 260 shuttle workers in Houston, Houston Chronicle
"Boeing today sent layoff notices to 510 employees - including 260 in Houston - involved in space shuttle work. The notices give 60 days advance notice of an expected job elimination. The workers' last day would be Aug. 5, pending the completion of the final space shuttle mission, STS-135. Boeing said in a statement that is working to keep as many workers as possible by moving employees to program such as the International Space Station work."
Boeing plans to lay off 150, Florida Today
"The Boeing Co. will lay off 150 of its 515 remaining Kennedy Space Center workers on Aug. 5. The layoffs would come later if the final shuttle launch, scheduled for July 8, is delayed. Nationwide, 510 Boeing employees were issued layoff notices Friday, including 260 employees in Houston and 100 in Huntington Beach, Calif." What goes up, also comes down: Space Shuttle jobs ending, Washington Post
"[John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management] said OPM will sponsor a job fair in Cocoa, Fla. in late July, which will include training on seeking positions listed on USAJOBS.gov. Also, NASA has created a Web site, www.jobsforaerospaceworkers.com, where federal agencies can post jobs and "find additional information about the skills of the available workforce."
"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."
"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 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."
"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."
"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.
"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."
"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."
"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)
Women's History Month, Women in Planetary Science
"Several people have sent me a photo of NASA's Women's History Month Celebration recently, expressing dismay at the images NASA and the White House chose to represent women inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and to launch the new Women@NASA website. They object to the skimpy outfits, to the emphasis on cheerleading, and they wonder how this happened. I don't know. But I do know one thing: Women at NASA *do* come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages."
Keith's note: To be honest I really had no issue whatsoever with this website or its intent. Quite the contrary. But until today I was unaware of the women in skimpy skin-tight clothing on the stage at NASA HQ when this website was unveiled (Larger view). This one has me baffled. Would NASA ever put dancing men on stage in Speedos for a Men@NASA website? Not that being a cheerleader or a dancer is not a perfectly valid career path - but my understanding of the intent of this website was to get beyond stereotypes - and yet the organizers choice of an opening act only serves to reinforce at least one of them.
Keith's update: Darlene, the captain of this cheerleading squad, has had a few things to say. You can visit her team here.
"NASA will debut its new Women@NASA website during a Women's History Month event at the agency's Headquarters in Washington at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 16. Approximately 200 local students from elementary through high school level will attend and learn about the significant and varied roles women have played in the agency's history."
Go to http://women.nasa.gov/
Kennedy Space Center probes illegal-drug find, Florida Today
"NASA is investigating the finding of apparent illegal drugs at Kennedy Space Center for the second time in a little more than a year. Preliminary field tests indicated that 4.2 grams of a white powdery substance found March 7 was cocaine, said Renee Juhans, a spokeswoman for NASA's Office of Inspector General, which is conducting the investigation. "The substance is now at an accredited crime lab for further testing," she said."
Cocaine found again at Kennedy Space Center, My Fox Orlando
"This is the second time in a year that drugs have been found at NASA. In January 2010 a plastic bag with cocaine residue was found near a restroom in the restricted hangar where the space shuttle Discovery was being prepared for a mission flight."
"NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans to lay off an estimated 200 to 250 employees before the end of March as the space agency deals with evolving federal budget constraints, a JPL official said Wednesday. President Obama's budget proposal calling for keeping NASA's budget flat at about $18.7 billion through fiscal year 2012 and beyond would mean delays in several projects now in the pipeline, while ongoing projects would be fully funded. "If we can make a small reduction in work force now we will have enough money to keep going for the remainder of the year," Richard O'Toole, executive manager of JPL's office of legislative affairs, said Wednesday."
NASA to stay put in Southwest D.C. building, Washington Business Journal
"The General Services Administration said Thursday it has signed a 597,253-square-foot lease for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Piedmont Office Realty Trust Inc.'s 300 E St. SW, opting for the space agency to stay in place at its current headquarters."
NASA, OCC deals cause Southwest D.C. shuffle, Washington Business Journal
"Piedmont will renovate Two Independence Square in phases as part of the NASA deal, swinging some workers into two downtown buildings at 1201 and 1225 Eye St. NW."
Usa Informs Employees Of Layoff, Florida Today
"United Space Alliance by Friday will notify 548 Kennedy Space Center employees that they will be laid off on April 8. Some 697 USA employees companywide will be laid off, including 145 in Houston and four in Huntsville, Ala."
Court says NASA background checks can continue, Federal News Radio
"The Supreme Court says background checks of low-risk employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California can continue. The high court on Wednesday overturned a lower court decision that had stopped the space agency's investigations of the contract workers. The workers claimed NASA was invading their privacy by requiring the investigations, which included probes into medical records and questioning of friends about everything from their finances to their sex lives."
Usa Lays Off 143 Ksc Workers Today, Florida Today
"NASA's lead shuttle contractor is cutting staff as retirement of the shuttle fleet approaches later this year. The layoff affects a total of 246 employees across the Houston-based company, including 98 in Texas (updated number) and five in other locations."
MSFC Layoffs, Huntsville Space Professionals
"Rumors are circulating about more MSFC layoffs. Word is that they have been ongoing, but in small enough numbers they have not been released to the media, nor received a lot of attention. Word is also there will be a Jacobs ESTS all hands tomorrow about potential related and their numbers are already down to around 290-300 employees from around a 1000 in the summer. That is Jacobs ESTS alone. Word is also that civil servant layoffs are also in process."
Keith's note: Word has it that the next round of layoffs at USA are coming on 7 January 2011. This will be a smaller personnel layoff than the subsequent 3 rounds of layoffs being planned in 2011. Employees have heard from management that there will probably be much larger layoffs in April, July, and September 2011. Upwards of 80% of the employees at JSC and KSC may well be gone by the time these layoffs conclude.
"The current system allows NASA to customize the information on the site. Through the customization, NASA has acquired data necessary to support an agengcy-wide longitudal health study. Therefore, NASA intends to continue the customized service from Mayo to maintain control of data necessary for study, and to retain the accumulated data gathered over the years. ... The requirement consist of an interactive health assessment web-based portal dedicated to NASA. The web-based portal requires: ... Rewards points incentive programs (and incentive tracking capabilities) designed to increase level of participation by NASA employees.
"As you know, United Space Alliance has been undergoing a significant transformation in order for the company to remain competitive and successful following the completion of Shuttle Program operations and the closeout of the Space Program Operations Contract (SPOC). Retirement plans like USA's defined benefits plans are a significant cost driver, and many of USA's competitors have eliminated such plans to drive their costs down. After fully considering all options available, USA is announcing its intention to terminate all of its defined benefit plans, effective as of the close of this plan year. You will receive official notices via US Mail to your home. This memo is an explanatory "heads up" of what this means to you."
"A group of scientists has demanded that the U.S. Attorney General's office immediately retract remarks made by a government attorney during arguments before the Supreme Court over privacy concerns with NASA background checks. The scientists said they want the attorney general to retract a statement made by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal during his opening statement, which at one point addressed how easily employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., could access sensitive areas and facilities using a new security badge."
JPL scientists demand retraction in Supreme Court privacy case, Pasadena Star News
"Jet Propulsion Laboratory employees Thursday accused the federal government's lawyers of lying to the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices heard arguments this week in a legal battle involving new security background checks."
"Supreme Court justices questioned on Tuesday whether the federal government in its background investigations of employees can ask about their drug treatment, medical conditions or sexual practices. The high court during arguments in a case about NASA background checks of scientists in California considered what questions could be asked without violating their constitutional privacy rights. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito asked the Obama administration attorney whether any limit existed on the questions that can be asked. They cited questions about sexual practices, genetic tests, medical conditions and even about what a person reads. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal defended the background investigations and described them as standard for federal employees since 1953 and for contractors since 2005."
"None of the JPL workers who sued work on classified projects or have security clearances, though several are involved in high-profile missions including the twin Mars rovers and the Cassini spacecraft studying Saturn and its moons. The plaintiffs don't deny that the government has the right to confirm a person's identity and education for employment. But requiring background checks of low-risk employees, which includes probes into medical records, finances and drug history, is an invasion of privacy, they say."
"JPL spokesperson Veronical McGregor tells the Pasadena Star-News the layoffs will affect less than two percent of the total workforce of about 5,000 employees. McGregor says there was no single area or departments selected for workforce reductions. A JPL contractor tells the newspaper so far people have been let go in the acquisition, housekeeping and travel accounting departments."
Amid layoffs, NASA charts a new direction, space.com
"With the end of that program, scores of jobs at NASA and its contractors will be lost. On Friday, nearly 1,400 shuttle workers were laid off at NASA contractor United Space Alliance, a joint venture by Boeing and Lockheed Martin."
NASA Workers Join Unemployed, My Fox Houston
"Houston's space community found little to celebrate on Friday. We've known for months, but today reality set in when 333 NASA contract workers in the Houston area got pink slips. In all, the main supporter of NASA's space shuttle program, United Space Alliance, announced it will layoff about 15% of its workforce or 1,200 employees."
NASA still expects Huntsville layoffs, but says jobs may come back, Huntsville times
"Marshall Director Robert Lightfoot warned NASA and contract workers in an "all hands" meeting Tuesday that the layoffs were likely if Congress ordered NASA to start the new fiscal year under a continuing budget resolution. Until it gets a new appropriation, NASA must work on the new program with the current budget, meaning a so-called "ramp down" of Constellation was inevitable before it ends completely. NASA expects to be under the continuing resolution until early December, at the earliest."
"On Oct. 5, Robert Lightfoot, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be available to discuss the significance and impact on Marshall Center of the NASA authorization bill recently passed by Congress."
"Alliant Techsystems Inc , a Minnesota-based aerospace and defense contractor, is laying off more than 400, mostly at its northern Utah plant, a spokesman said on Thursday. ... he 400-plus layoffs amount to about 2 percent of the company's total 18,000-member workforce."
"It's expected as the shuttle program comes to an end that more than 9,000 shuttle workers will loose their jobs. The NASA deputy administrator said she didnt believe this bill would affect planned layoffs, "certainly not for tomorrow." More than 1,200 shuttle workers are to be laid off on Friday."
More Huntsville layoffs loom as Constellation ends, but NASA has plan, Huntsville Times
"Gone is the behind-schedule Constellation program that employed 2,200 federal and contractor employees at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Most of them worked on Ares I, the first rocket in the three-part program. The NASA employees' jobs are safe. However, 500 contract workers were laid off in June in anticipation of Constellation ending, but some were kept at work. Now, Constellation will end Friday when the new fiscal year starts."
"After 37 years of playng a major role in the U.S. space program, Lockheed Martin Corp. made it official: the era of building space shuttle fuel tanks at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility is over, along with scores of jobs. The company completed laying off about 800 shuttle program employees this month, leaving about 600 whose futures are tenuous."
Compromise saves some NASA jobs, Friendswood Journal
"When President Obama signs the bill, the number of Space Shuttle missions will be extended by one -- totaling three more flights between now and the retirement of the Shuttle. Layoffs, however, will still be coming to the communities surrounding JSC. "Probably it's going to be in the neighborhood of 750 to 850," Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell estimated. "You have to keep in mind that you're not just talking about the Lockheed-Martin's, Boeing's, USA's and Jacobs -- we're talking about the smaller firms. The companies that have 10 to 100 people can't afford to hold onto employees if they're not being funded by NASA."
"Today, Monday, September 27, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) will discuss the future of Florida's space industry at the Lou Frey 2010 Fall Symposium at the University of Central Florida. Kosmas will participate in a panel discussion entitled "The Space Program: Florida and Beyond" with Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida."
NASA v. The Scientists, Air & Space
"Just weeks before the Supreme Court is due to hear a case that has dominated his life for the past three years--and may affect the lives of thousands of fellow government contractors--Robert Nelson's thoughts are a billion miles away. "Right now I'm sitting at my desk looking at a spectral image of the surface of Titan," he says by phone from his office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he's a planetary astronomer."
Jacobs lays off 129 at NASA, Bay Area Citizen
"Jacobs Engineering on Thursday notified 129 employees that they will lose their jobs in two weeks, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell told Citizen counterpart The Friendswood Journal. Uncertainty in NASA funding has prompted the Clear Lake company to take this action. "These (129) layoffs aren't necessary," Mitchell said. He points to NASA headquarters in Washington as the culprit, accusing them of improperly redirecting funding for current programs. "They are required to spend the money the way Congress appropriated that money."
Houston-area schools brace for impact of NASA layoffs, Houston Chronicle
"Bracing for layoffs among NASA contractors, several Houston-area school districts are ramping up efforts to support students during what's expected to be an increasingly difficult financial time. Hundreds of families in the Clear Creek, Dickinson, Alvin, La Porte and Pasadena districts are expected to be affected by the layoffs, which are ongoing as the end of the space shuttle program nears."
"To assess the current state of diversity and inclusion throughout the agency, as well as at your center, NASA has contracted with Westat, a research organization in Rockville, Md., to develop and administer a Diversity and Inclusion Assessment Survey for civil service staff as part of the NASA Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Framework. NASA will use the survey results to establish a diversity and inclusion snapshot, identify our strengths and challenges, and design future activities for the continuing enhancement of diversity and inclusion efforts at the agency."
"Although, there have been many surveys over the years, this is the first survey to specifically address diversity and inclusion."
Reader note: "While I think this survey is a complete waste of time and tax dollars, I note that once again HQ is excluding all on-site contractors from a NASA-wide survey. Please explain to me, Mr. Bolden, how any survey can possibly "establish a diversity and inclusion snapshot" of NASA when right off the bat you are excluding the views of 70% of the NASA workforce."
Friday, September 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) will host a meeting of local community leaders to discuss efforts to ensure that small businesses and start-up companies have accesses to federal economic development funding for the Space Coast provided through the Presidential Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development. Kosmas will be joined by officials from Space Florida, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, and community bankers.
KSC workers refocus as cuts creep closer, Florida Today
"Losing a job is one of life's most stressful events, and on Oct. 1, more than 900 workers will leave KSC for what could be the last time. The overall loss of aerospace jobs as the space shuttle program ends next year is expected to surpass 8,000. A job loss can bring a wide range of emotions, experts said, including hopelessness, anger, guilt, shame, fear and a loss of identity."
Raytheon to lay off 82 workers at NASA Langley, Virginian-Pilot
"The workers will be laid off Oct. 27, according to a notice Raytheon filed with the state under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. "This is the direct result of a recompeted contract," said Jon Kasle, a spokesman for the company based in Waltham, Mass."
NASA extends USA contract, Bay Area Citizen
"NASA has extended the Space Program Operations Contract with United Space Alliance, of Houston to March 31, 2011. ... This is not expected to affect the planned layoffs of from 1,400 to 1,800 USA employees, including 300 to 400 here."
ATK, NASA officials cheer Ares rocket motor test, Deseret News
"President Barack Obama announced the direction of the nation's space program would change. That officially put the program called "Constellation" in jeopardy and prompted more than 1,600 layoffs at Utah companies, including ATK."
"NASA has been ranked fifth in the Partnership for Public Service 2010 ratings for the "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government." The 2010 survey is the fifth conducted by the partnership since 2003. NASA has been rated in the top five in the federal government in four of the surveys and sixth in the other. An award was accepted by Associate Deputy Administrator Charles Scales on behalf of the agency at a special briefing held by the partnership on Wednesday, Sept. 1."
Keith's note: NASA was ranked #1 in 2004.
Frank's note: What a nice study. Real good for the ego, right? Trouble is, most of the people that work at NASA HQ that I know are deeply divided and unhappy at the agency's current mixed status-maybe Constellation and maybe not. And it's worse at field centers like JSC, KSC and MSFC. The Obama administration, who had a fairly good program of empowering commercial firms to access the ISS and reinvigorate its technology development program, proceeded to mangle the rollout of its new initiatives. They then compounded the felony by allowing an inept NASA messaging machine to lose control of its own message.
Much like the Republican's false characterization of Obama's health care bill as containing "death panels", the administration sat by and allowed critics to declare Obama was ending manned spaceflight. I bet a majority of the public still believes this. Now, after seven months after the budget announcement and five months after Obama spoke in Florida, NASA still seems unable to explain what it wants to do, and why it matters to American families.
Do you trust these guys to go to Mars? But, oh yeah, it's a great place to work if you don't care where you are going. The good folks need reinforcements and the deadwood need to take a buy out. Else nothing will ever change.
Layoff anxiety top risk to space shuttle, Florida Today
"NASA's shuttle program in 2006 employed 14,000 contractors and 1,800 civil servants in eight states and Washington, D.C. By November 2009, the work force had been cut to 10,300 contractors and 1,200 civil servants. The contractor work force at the end of May: 8,741. One by one, the 5,158 technicians, engineers and managers who still work for United Space Alliance at KSC recently were called in by supervisors and given notice. Some 902 were told they could be out of a job by Oct. 1. Another 3,256 people will lose their jobs by April if NASA's last scheduled shuttle mission is launched as planned on Feb. 26. The addition of one extra mission proposed by NASA would only slow the company's planned drop to 1,000 to late July or August."
"AVIATION WEEK has released results from its 2010 Workforce and Young Professionals/Student Study, a mainstay for aerospace and defense (A&D) planning and trend analysis since 1997, which show that A&D companies plan to hire 15,500 professionals this year. However, retaining younger employees continues to be a challenge -- the voluntary attrition rate (employees choosing to leave) for young professionals rose to 21%, and 41% admit to looking for new jobs. The study also reviewed industry retirement rates and ranked the top universities for A&D alumni hires, with California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, at number one."
"The President's Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, co-chaired by NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, today released its report to President Barack Obama with recommendations to enhance economic development strategies along Florida's Space Coast. The task force was charged with developing a plan for how best to invest $40 million in transition assistance from the federal government in the Space Coast region as the space shuttle program winds down."
Keith's note: Word has it that Mark Geyer has decided to cut the Constellation Flight Test Office budget by 75%. This is the same group that recently completed the very successful Pad Abort 1 (PA-1) launch. The remaining budget will only be enough to mothball equipment and facilities. The majority of the team is located at DFRC but the program is managed at JSC.
"The U.S. Secretary of Commerce met with soon-to-be laid off employees Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center before he had to report to President Obama. The meeting is about finding the best way to spend $40 million meant to help laid off shuttle employees. The money won't be enough to help all the workers who will lose their jobs. The Secretary of Commerce wouldn't say exactly how he is going to propose using the money, but he hinted it could be used as business incubators."
"Locke suggested the money would likely strive to attract or expand technology and alternative energy businesses, promote research and partnerships with higher education institutions, and finance ideas proposed by local economic development leaders."
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.
"The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) are writing to inform you that this bill is far from non-controversial. In this regard, IFPTE and AFGE urge you to oppose HR 5781 if it comes before you in its current form."
"The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said in a July 29 statement that the organization supports the House version of the NASA authorization."
Space Center future will be bright - eventually, its director says, Orlando Sentinel
"I see a great future for KSC," center director Robert Cabana told several hundred community boosters, elected officials, union members and industry executives gathered at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the annual "Community Leaders Briefing." But short-term challenges - including mass layoffs - are looming, he added. Unlike previous briefings, this year's gathering resembled a pep rally for a high school football team after a losing season rather than the traditional "state of Kennedy Space Center" update."
For Space Shuttle Workers, The End Is Here, Discovery News
"The company previously shed 743 positions under its shuttle processing contract during layoffs in October 2009 and this past June. The latest wave cuts about 15 percent of the firm's 8,100-member shuttle workforce, with more layoffs coming next year."
"More than 1,300 space shuttle workers received layoff notices this week from United Space Alliance - a NASA contractor that is cutting 15 percent of its 8,100-person workforce ahead of the shuttle fleet's retirement next year. Layoff notices were issued to 1,394 USA employees in all, company spokesperson Kari Fluegel told SPACE.com. The layoffs take effect Oct. 1 and were announced earlier this month by USA officials."
"In all, 1,397 employees will be laid off effective October 1. That includes 478 employees in Texas, 14 in Alabama and 905 in Florida. All employees will receive severance and job training for other fields."
Keith's note: According to his family: "Dr. Klaus Peter Heiss passed away peacefully on July 24, 2010 in his hometown Brixen/South Tyrol after an extended illness that he met with grace and quiet determination. Funeral will be held Tuesday July 27, 2010 in the Pfarrkirche Brixen/South Tyrol. Memorial service in the Deutschordenskirche in Vienna, Singerstrasse 7, in September. Dr. Heiss was bearer of several awards like Goldenes Ehrenzeichen der Auslandsoesterreicher, NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, and Ehrenzeichen der Stadt Brixen." - The Heiss and the Kuen family Brixen/South Tyrol and Hinterbruehl/Austria.
"We must explore every possible option for creating new job opportunities along the Space Coast to preserve our community's highly-skilled workforce," said Suzanne Kosmas "I have made it a priority to ensure that those on the local level are able to create and implement the vision for our community's future. We have a great opportunity to strengthen and diversify the Space Coast's economy and I will make sure that small businesses, industry and academia have a voice in the process."
"The group plans on handing over a full report to the president by Aug. 15. On Saturday, the panel also discussed transferring jobs to clean technology, like hybrid cars."
Kosmas sets shuttle discussion, Forida Today
"Dale Ketcham uses military-style imagery to illustrate what's happening on the Space Coast and beyond with the shuttle retirement. Some communities handle the closing of a military base magnificently, said Ketcham, director of the University of Central Florida's Spaceport Research and Technology Institute. Some areas, years after a base closure, still suffer. Ketcham is part of the movement to avoid the latter picture as the region moves toward and into the post-shuttle era."
NASA's Astronaut Corps: Status of Corrective Actions Related to Health Care Activities, NASA OIG, 6 July 2010
"NASA Had Not Taken Actions to Address Two Recommendations. At the time of this review, NASA Headquarters had not addressed the recommendation from the Safety and Mission Assurance report to implement a NASA-wide alcohol testing program because no NASA official had been assigned responsibility to address the issue."
"NASA Was Unable to Address One Recommendation. NASA was unable to address a Committee recommendation that it fully integrate behavioral health information derived from psychological testing evaluations into the final selection process of astronaut candidates if the information is found to be useful."
- NASA Fact Sheet on the Findings of the Astronaut Health Care System Review Committee, earlier post from 2007
- NASA JSC Internal Assessment of Medical Practices after Nowak Incident, earlier post from 2007
- NASA Astronaut Health Care System Review Committee February - June, 2007 Report to the Administrator, earlier post from 2007
- Opening Remarks on Astronaut Health Reports by NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale, earlier post from 2007
Primary shuttle contractor sees layoffs by Oct. 1, Houston Chronicle
"The Houston-based company employs approximately 8,100 employees at its Florida, Texas and Alabama sites, including nearly 3,000 in the Houston area. The cuts will reduce as many as 400 positions from the Houston office."
"The Houston-based company said in a news release that 800 to 1000 jobs could be lost in Florida."
USA to lay off up to 1,000 Florida shuttle workers, Orlando Sentinel
"USA said it employs approximately 8,100 employees at its Florida, Texas and Alabama sites. The layoffs will hit about 800-1000 employees in Florida, about 300-400 employees in Texas and about 10 in Alabama, the company said."
"Our workforce has known for several years that the space shuttle program has been scheduled to end, but layoffs are always difficult for everyone involved," said company President/CEO Virginia Barnes. "The accomplishments of this team are unmatched in human spaceflight. We acknowledge the tremendous talent and commitment of our teammates and congratulate them on their achievements."
"People being laid off now is just the beginning. Many more thousands will be laid of as the shuttle programme is wound down," Keith Cowing, the editor of space specialist website Nasa Watch, told the BBC World Service."
This week at Cape Canaveral saw the red, white and blue honored by one of the most historic of American traditions. It also saw local leaders both working to improve the economic future of the Space Coast region and acknowledging the benefits of the shuttle era extending into another year.
Keith's note: The Facebook Group Huntsville Space Professionals is tracking workforce issues, layoffs, etc. in the Huntsville area.
Roy Estess, Clarion-Ledger
"Roy Simmons Estess of Carriere, Mississippi passed away Friday evening at his residence in Tylertown, Mississippi. He was 71 years of age. Visitation will be held at Tylertown Baptist Church on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 from 12 Noon until 2 P.M. Funeral services will immediately follow with the Reverend Dr. Raymond Leake and Reverend Wayne Ward officiating. Interment will be at Tylertown Cemetery."
Former Stennis director Estess dies at 71, Sun Herald
"From the cafeteria worker to the test-stand operator, workers loved him, she said. "I don't know anyone who didn't consider it a privilege and a pleasure to work for him," she said. "I never heard a negative word about him. He had a special gift for making others feel appreciated."
Tribute to Roy Estess (Senate - July 29, 2002)
"The Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development has launched an interactive website to encourage public comment on ways to promote economic growth and sustainability in Florida's Space Coast region as it adapts to changes in America's space program. The site offers valuable information about the work the administration is doing to create jobs in the region by fostering a more supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem."
Keith's note: Why is there not a similar flurry of NASA/White House interest in the impact of the Constellation layoffs in Alabama, Texas, and elsewhere?
"Sources say people inside this meeting were given the option to take a voluntary layoff and receive one thousand dollars as well as pay until July 9th. They say workers were also told they can apply for part time work, or stay and see what happens. Jacobs was contacted to get more information. We're still waiting to hear what they have to say about Tuesday's meeting and what's next for their company's future in Huntsville."
No way to run the space program, opinion, Huntsville Times
"Some contractor employees working on the Constellation program have already been told to expect layoff notices and buyout offers, and others will probably join them this week and next. Up to 1,000 or so jobs are at stake at 21 local contractors employing 1,750 people on the Constellation program."
"This is going to be an administrative decision, but it has a huge impact on us here. We do have BRAC that's bringing in six or seven thousand jobs. We've got a couple of other announcements I hope to be making in the next several months," said Governor Riley."
"Boeing has already announced that it will issue layoff notices to 100 Constellation rocket program employees on July 2. Battle said he has heard rumors that 700-800 local NASA contractors could eventually receive pink slips."
"Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says that there could be anywhere from 700 to 800 layoffs for Marshall Space Flight Center contractors. Monday, The mayor's "Second to None" Task Force met with Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger to update him on efforts to save MSFC's Constellation Program and secure his support."
"During a morning news conference, Ruppersberger said he is concerned about ending the rocket program without a "roadmap" for how America will remain a leader in space."
White House looks to help shuttle workers (outside Florida) , Orlando Sentinel
"When President Barack Obama visited Kennedy Space Center in April, he pledged $40 million to help aerospace workers in Florida find new jobs after the space shuttle fleet completes its final mission, now scheduled for later this year. But the gesture didn't sit well in other states with NASA centers -- particularly Texas and Alabama -- which also would be affected by the shuttle's retirement."
"The president submitted to Congress on Friday, June 18, a fiscal year 2011 budget amendment that targets up to $100 million toward spurring regional economic growth and job creation in the aerospace industry. The amendment would provide up to $40 million in aid for Florida's Space Coast and a maximum of about $60 million for other affected regions. These funds specifically would be made available from the Constellation Program transition element of the agency's exploration request. The amendment does not increase the total of the administration's fiscal year 2011 budget request."
"Huntsville's Constellation contractors find out as early as today about what's left of the rocket program, and that means hundreds of layoff notices beginning next week. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center began sending letters to contractors Thursday telling them how much money they have left to spend on Constellation for the rest of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30."
Laid-off Constellation workers "ideal candidates" for incoming BRAC jobs, Huntsville Times
"The chairman of the Tennessee Valley BRAC Committee said Friday that laid-off NASA Constellation workers will have a "really good" chance of finding jobs in the growing defense industry here. "There are plenty of positions open," Joe Ritch said. "Those people are ideal candidates."
"NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage said in a June 18 statement the space agency "is pleased the president has targeted additional support from his fiscal year 2011 budget request to help the communities and workers around the U.S. most deeply involved in our space program meet the challenges of tomorrow. "Our workforce is incredibly talented and dedicated, and we are committed to equipping them with the tools they need to contribute to new developments in our nation's space program and related industries," Cabbage continued. "This $100 million investment in our people is essential to spurring regional economic growth and job creation."
Lockheed Martin moving some workers off Orion space project, Denver Business Journal
"Lockheed Martin Space Systems is moving 300 positions away from development of the Orion space capsule and dropping another 300 subcontractors from the project over the next month."
NASA contractors preparing for the worst, Galveston County Daily News
"The number of layoffs that face NASA contractors in the Houston area is unknown at this point, but major Constellation and shuttle program contractors are preparing for the worst."
Latest NASA salvo leading to layoffs, Bay Area Citizen
"NASA headquarters began playing hardball this past week in the fight with Congress over its budget, telling major contractors they must curtail work on the Constellation program or they may be in violation of federal spending rules. The surprise move brought angry reaction from various corners of the country as aerospace contractors went public with their fears that possibly 5,000 jobs could be lost before the end of the year - including quite a few in the Clear Lake area."
"Huntsville is bracing for "serious and significant job loss" after NASA's decision to cut nearly $1 billion from the Constellation rocket program, Mayor Tommy Battle says. But what could be the basis for a longterm compromise over NASA's space program began forming this week in the U.S. Senate."
Our views: End the stalemate, editorial, Florida Today
"On one hand there's the Obama administration, which keeps pressing its plan to launch astronauts aboard private rockets and kill the Constellation moon project. On the other are some members of Congress from NASA-dependent states, fighting to save Constellation and armed with a law that says it can't be canceled without congressional approval. Common sense calls for cool-headed negotiations to break the impasse, but that's too much to ask in Washington."
Huntsville bracing for 'serious and significant' space program job loss, Huntsville Times
"This city is bracing for "serious and significant job loss" due to NASA's decision last week to hold back nearly $1 billion in funding for the Constellation rocket program, Mayor Tommy Battle says."
"Mayor Battle held a news conference Tuesday afternoon outlining the city's mission to try and communicate with Robert Lightfoot the Director Marshall Space Flight Center. He has written two letters to Lightfoot. In the first letter the Mayor asked that the agency stop any and all public announcements regarding potential job terminations or contract changes until his office and the Alabama Congressional Delegation can be appropriately briefed on the steps to be taken."
"Mayor Battle feels the government has turned its back on the future of manned space flight, and it's a slap in the face to the highly skilled engineers and scientists who stand to lose their jobs."
"NASA Headquarters in Washington confirmed today that no government employees here will lose their jobs in current cuts being made in the Constellation rocket program."
Space Policy Fight May Have No Winners, Aviation Week
"Bolden says "most of these reductions will be implemented via reductions in workforce" in the weeks ahead, "beginning immediately" and totaling an estimated "30-60% of the current population, or 2,500-5,000, for the balance of the year."
Job fairs, workshop planned for space shuttle workers, Florida Today
"Two upcoming job fairs and a workshop aim to assist aerospace professionals whose jobs could end with the shuttle program, and those already out of work."
Constellation may not recover from NASA's rare move last week, Huntsville Times
"Details were still sketchy Monday on exactly how many Constellation contractor employees could be laid off here, although Boeing has already announced 100 cuts. Attempts to reach managers of other key contractors were unsuccessful."
Keith's note: With the exception of national publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. and space-related media, why does it seem that the only local/state level newspapers and TV stations that are paying attention to the current space policy food fight are in Texas, Alabama, Florida, Utah, and Colorado? Where is the outrage in the rest of the country? Why isn't there more widespread condemnation? Is this just about losing jobs? Or do most Americans just not care about space?
If the rhetoric that Obama space policy opponents fling about is correct in its prediction of dire consequences for America, then where's the national outrage?
Constellation funding up to NASA backers to win over Congress, Bud Cramer, huntsville Times
"The president's proposal includes a very different vision for NASA's future and begs the question: Will we continue to have a government-led space program? Will Marshall's workforce have the rug pulled out from under them?"
New NASA cutback a bad idea, editorial, Austin Daily Herald
"There's a two-fold problem with NASA's decision, which is apparently based on the president's distaste for the moon program. First, an enormous amount has already been spent; $10 billion over the past five years. Most, if not all, of that will be wasted with the program's cancellation. Perhaps more importantly, the cancellation will be yet another giant step backward for America's space program, one of the few efforts our nation is making to prepare for the future."
Congressmen still want probe of NASA Constellation decisions, Huntsville Times
"The employees and their families who are experiencing the news of job loss today have my thoughts with them," Griffith said. "It is unacceptable that our region is suffering due to this administration's blatant arrogance and its ignorance of the importance of manned space flight."
NASA move could kill up to 2,000 Utah jobs, Salt Lake Tribune
"Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, a member of the appropriations committee, said he believes they have a 50-50 shot of fighting off the president's plan to scrap Ares in favor of commercially developed vehicles that the government would lease rides on. "I haven't run across anyone outside of the administration who thinks this is a good idea," he said."
Aderholt Pledges Constellation Fight, WAAY 31
"WAAY 31 talked with one of Constellation's strongest supporters in Washington - Congressman Robert Aderholt of Haleyville on Friday. "I think it was a little bit premature" the Republican told us. "considering the fact that Congress has still got to pass the appropriations bill, the money has still got to be appropriated to NASA, and it was just disappointing that they would go ahead and move forward on this without Congressional approval."
Boeing says 100 will lose jobs here due to Constellation cuts, Huntsville Times
"Boeing will issue termination notices July 2 to 100 Constellation rocket program employees here, a spokesman said today. "That's the first increment," spokesman Ed Memi said. Additional cuts could be ahead, he said."
"ATK spokeswoman Trina Patterson said the company has 90 employees in Huntsville, and 2,000 overall who work on the Ares project. "We have received no direction from NASA, so we cannot comment on how we will proceed," commented Patterson."
Keith's note: According to one MSFC reader: "It's basically "say goodbye to Ares Day" here. Managers and branch chiefs are in meetings all morning. There is an all-hands meeting at 2:00 pm. "Tough times ahead" is acknowledged by many."
Rep. Bishop responds to NASA's efforts to end the Constellation, Cache Valley Daily
"This recent directive handed down by NASA officials shows blatant disregard for the laws set forth by Congress to prevent this very action," says Rep. Bishop. "The administration is disregarding these policies with reckless abandon and doing so in a way that I find to be in complete violation of the legal parameters."
"For months, NASA's leadership has claimed they are not working to subvert Constellation despite information to the contrary," Hutchison said in a statement."
"At the time, economists predicted as many as 7,000 jobs could be lost in Houston as the space shuttle program was phased out and Constellation winded down. Another 4,000 indirect jobs at local businesses were predicted to be on the line."
"The cancellation of the NASA Constellation program is having an impact on contractors in Huntsville. Boeing spokesperson Ed Memi said they could possibly lay of 60 percent off the 300 people who work on the Constellation and Ares project."
Boeing could lay off 180 after Constellation funding cuts, Huntsville Times
"The Boeing Co., which employs 300 people on Constellation here, said Thursday it will hand termination notices to an unspecified number July 2. Their jobs will end Sept. 3 unless Boeing can find slots in other programs, spokesman Ed Memi said."
Colorado's delegation seeks to save Lockheed jobs, Denver Post
"Lockheed Martin has said it may have to cut some of the 600 to 650 employees who work on Orion in Colorado because NASA expects it and other contractors to shoulder the cost of terminating the Constellation spaceflight project, of which Orion is a part. The company said May 27 it is cutting project costs by 20 percent. About 1,000 people in the state and 4,000 nationwide work on Orion for various contractors."
"A NASA plan to force Alliant Techsystems to set aside $500 million to deal with potential termination costs of the Constellation rocket program could end up decimating the ATK space systems work force in the Top of Utah, according to space agency documents. A NASA letter, dated June 9, and its attachments estimate the "worst-case scenario" for ATK would be more than 2,000 layoffs beyond those the company has already implemented."
Space Coast task force gathers at White House, Orlando Sentinel
"Top administration officials met at the White House on Tuesday as part of a months-long effort to save the Space Coast economy, which expected to crater once NASA flies it final space shuttle mission this year from Cape Canaveral. No decisions were made, but NASA chief Charlie Bolden and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said they were in the process in trying to decide how to spend $40 million in federal dollars to help thousands of Kennedy Space Center workers set to lose their jobs after the shuttle's retirement."
Cape Canaveral was in the spotlight this week both domestically and internationally. At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex a grant was unveiled designed to help space workers find work after the end of the shuttle program. An international team visited Kennedy Space Center and expressed their interest in joining the U.S. in future efforts to explore the solar system. To wrap up the week several veteran space flyers were inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Oh, and how about SpaceX, Falcon 9 lifts off on maiden voyage.
"Huntsville leaders fighting Obama administration plans to scuttle NASA's Constellation program said Friday they want to work with the current Congress to secure the program's future rather than risk success on who might be in Washington after the November election. So they want to "turn up the noise," Mayor Tommy Battle said. They want people to show Congress their support for the manned space flight program by e-mail, letters, phone calls, web videos and other ways of getting Washington's attention."
Help sought for NASA workers, Houston Chronicle
"The Houston region could lose as many as 7,000 jobs at Johnson Space Center and among NASA contractors as a result of threatened cutbacks in the manned space program sought by President Barack Obama. The requested assistance draws upon the same U.S. Labor Department program that provided Florida's Brevard Workforce Development Board Inc. $15 million in emergency assistance to help roughly 3,200 contract and subcontract workers along Florida's Space Coast."
"NASA and Florida's congressional delegation have been pushing the Obama administration to add a third launch next June. Some also have asked the president to reconsider ending the Constellation program, though Congress will make the final decision. "I am not satisfied at this point that the president's plan is the best plan for men in space," said Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, who was on the panel along with fellow Democratic Rep. Suzanne Kosmas."
"Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) released the following statement in regards to this morning's town hall meeting conducted by Commerce Secretary Locke, NASA Administrator Bolden and Democrat Members of Congress on the future of the space workforce. Administration officials removed Space Coast Congressman Rep. Posey from the invitation list. "I'm disappointed that the Administration chose to inject partisanship into what really should be a serious and non-partisan effort to help address the needs of Florida's aerospace workforce."
Commerce Secretary Locke: "I know that for many people here in Central Florida, that promising future might seem very, very distant right now. The region has endured some of the worst of the economic crisis that has afflicted the entire nation has to offer. A lot of homes have been lost. Businesses have closed their doors. The unemployment rate has been running at some 2 percentage points higher than the national average, and, of course, the region is now facing the impending retirement of the Space Shuttle program, which will cause even further job losses and hardship. The Space Shuttle retirement, of course, was announced many, many years ago, even before President Obama even announced his candidacy for the United States Presidency, but that doesn't make it any easier on the NASA workers and their families or the businesses that depend on those NASA families for work. Before I leave here today, I hope all of you will walk away with one unambiguous message. We are committed to this region, and the measures that President Obama took to restore our national economy are beginning to work, and we're developing a very ambitious and targeted plan to revitalize the Space Coast region."