The Space Shuttle Atlantis will lift off Friday - the last shuttle mission for NASA.
Contractors who work on the shuttle program have been getting pink slips for the past year and a half, as the program winds down. But thousands more in Florida, Alabama and Texas will be out of a job after the final mission.
USA Today reports on how Florida's Space Coast economy will be impacted by the end of the program.
Once the shuttle program is mothballed, more than 8,000 people will have lost their jobs at the Kennedy Space Center. A final round of layoffs is set for July 22, two days after Atlantis lands. Business officials say the layoffs will ripple through Brevard County, a community already reeling from the sluggish economy and 10.8% unemployment."It's a one-two punch," says Marcia Gaedcke, president of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce, which covers an area where about 40% of Kennedy Space Center employees live. "Everyone's going to feel it. You could really drill down to any business."
In Houston - or Space City, if you prefer - United Space Alliance, the shuttle program's primary contractor, said in April it will lay off hundreds of employees later this month or early next month.
USA currently employs approximately 5,600 employees at its Florida, Texas and Alabama sites. The reduction in force will affect multiple disciplines and multiple organizations across the company. The reduction is expected to impact between 2600-2800 company-wide, including 1850-1950 employees in Florida, 750-800 employees in Texas, and 30-40 in Alabama.
More than 2,000 space jobs have already been lost in Houston. Last year, we reported on how some business leaders in Houston are worried about how the end of the shuttle program will impact the area's economy.