1,394 Shuttle Workers Receive Layoff Notices

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Nearly 1,400 space shuttle workers received layoff notices the week of July 27 from United Space Alliance (USA), the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that previously announced it would be 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, according to Kari Fluegel, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based space shuttle contractor. The layoffs take effect Oct. 1.

Fluegel said 902 layoff notices were issued to USA workers in Florida, which is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center that serves as the launch site and home port for the agency’s three shuttles. Another 478 layoffs were issued for Texas, which is home to NASA’s shuttle mission operation, with 14 more in Alabama, where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is based. About one-third of those laid off in each division nominated themselves for the cutback, Fluegel said.

Two final shuttle missions are currently scheduled — for November and February — and Congress is discussing the addition of a third and final shuttle mission. If approved, that extra flight likely would launch next summer, NASA officials have said.

Fluegel said that if the extra shuttle flight is approved, it will not affect the impending Oct. 1 layoffs. But it could have an impact on subsequent layoff rounds. “This plan wouldn’t be affected at all, but it would affect the timing, obviously, of when we would do layoffs, and how we’d do layoffs, next year,” she said.