Thursday, April 03, 2008

Space Center Apocalypse

Monday, NASA released a report called the “Workforce Transition Strategy Initial Report,” which estimates at least 6,400 jobs will be eliminated at Kennedy Space Center alone. Of those 6,400 layoffs, 4,800 will come all in one year - 2011. If there are problems with the Constellation program due to technological or funding issues (i.e. Obama is elected) it could be even worse. Those layoffs will have a cascading effect throughout central Florida, impacting more than 20,000 jobs overall and taking billions from Florida's economy.

I was a child the first time this happened, when Apollo was canceled. Its bad news. Bad for the area, but also bad for the nation as a whole, because the workforce will disperse and take their hard-earned knowledge with them.

Rep. Dave Weldon said, “This report only confirms what I have been saying for the last several years. The Bush Administration’s space plan is woefully inadequate and unacceptable. The Administration’s current plan is to cede the ‘ultimate high ground’ to hostile nations. The Chinese and Russians are celebrating today, while many on the Space Coast are only now realizing the magnitude of the absurdity of the current strategy imposed by the Administration.”

The report also exposed that NASA currently has only a 33% confidence level that it will be able to have the next manned spaceflight vehicle, Constellation, ready for flight by 2013. That confidence level rises only to 65% for a launch in 2015. This means that even if this massive project experiences no delays or unforeseen issues, the minimum time that America will be shut out of space is 5 years. This reports seems to reflect the increased likelihood that the “gap” could actually widen beyond 5 years. This comes as China is working feverishly to surpass U.S. space dominance, and as Russia is becoming increasingly hostile.

So even the "5 Year Gap" is a best-case scenario? Wonderful.

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