WASHINGTON — Houston-based United Space Alliance (USA) intends to lay off nearly 2,900 employees this summer after NASA flies its final space shuttle mission.

USA spokeswoman Kari Fluegel said May 13 that the company spent the week notifying approximately 2,876 employees that they will be laid off between late July and the end of August, a timeframe that assumes NASA conducts its final shuttle mission in early July as currently expected.

USA, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that maintains and operates the U.S. space shuttle fleet, currently employs some 5,600 people, with the bulk of its work force located in Florida at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

While the formal notices came as USA employees were busy preparing the Space Shuttle Endeavour for its planned May 16 liftoff, Fluegel said the company let employees know in mid-April that more layoffs were coming.

Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, USA is required to deliver formal layoff notices to affected employees at least 60 days in advance of any work force reductions.

“We know this is a very difficult time. These are incredibly dedicated professionals; they’ve done a great service for their county and it is really hard to see them go,” Fluegel said. “We know they will perform to their best ability through the end.”

NASA notified U.S. lawmakers May 13 that the coming USA layoffs would affect 1,954 in Florida, 877 in Texas and about 45 in Alabama.

Tracy Yates, USA’s spokeswoman in Florida, said almost all of the affected Florida employees will be let go July 22, with the majority of USA’s affected Texas employees due to depart Aug. 12.