Florida Today’s John Kelly looks at a question he says is often asked by laid-off contractors on the Space Coast: Why did so few government jobs go away with the retirement of the space shuttle — just 13 NASA positions last year — while the contractor work force was gutted?
The vulnerability of contractors and protection of government workers is “just a fact of life,” Kelly writes. “Agencies hire contractors to do jobs. When they’re done, the job is over. The government workers’ jobs are then to move on to the next task.” One of those tasks will be oversight and coordination of NASA’s work with private companies on developing commercial space vehicles to take astronauts to the international space station.
Not so fortunate are workers from United Space Alliance, the contractor NASA hired to operate its space shuttle fleet day to day. Shutting down the program ended the company’s “primary reason to exist,” Kelly writes. “So, most of the company’s workers were no longer needed after closing flights last year.”