End of Space Shuttle Program To Have Far Reaching Impact
“I suspect a number of engineers and other technicians involved in the shuttle program have shuttle-specific skills not immediately applicable elsewhere,” says Faust, adding, “which is why you're seeing a push in the Space Coast in particular about job retraining and other activities to help transition workers to other engineering and related jobs. I suspect one issue that will directly affect how quickly these people can find new jobs is their willingness to move to other parts of the country where they may find it easier to get a job."
Nor will it just affect those in technical and engineering jobs. As noted by the Brevard Workforce, many indirect jobs will also feel an effect.
"The local guys might not have any relief, from the restaurants to the trucking companies,” says Rosenberg. “Those guys will have to reinvent what they are going to do."
Faust shares this opinion, noting that the biggest job losses will be in Florida and Houston. But he says the impact in Houston won't be as severe because it's a large city with a diversified job market.
"Smaller companies that either based a significant part of their business on providing shuttle-specific goods and services to NASA or the other major companies supporting the shuttle program will be affected.”
In addition to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Rocketdyne, jobs will be cut at United Space Alliance, the NASA contractor that managed the space shuttle program. In April, 550 USA workers were laid off, and the next round will likely occur on July 22 when engineers, technicians, computer programmers and other workers are let go.
Losers, yes, but also winners.
"There are companies that see this as an opportunity to offer new capabilities to replace the shuttle's capacity,” says Wayne Plucker, Industry Manager of North America for Aerospace & Defense at research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Still, in Titusville life will go on. Following the final shuttle launch, there is the scheduled July launch of a Delta IV with a GPS IIF-2 satellite for the United States Air Force, as well as the scheduled Atlas V 551 rocket launch in August, which is sending the Juno Mission to Jupiter. These may not be the same draw as a space shuttle, but Thompson says the region will adapt.
"They're not closing the space center. They'll still be launching rockets over there, and we've been through this before,” says Thompson.