Lockheed Martin Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
About 510 employees in the Space Exploration division have received 60-day advance layoff notices

Now that the NASA Space Shuttle program is near completion, Boeing is announcing layoffs to employees in its Space Exploration division. 

Since the beginning of this year, NASA has begun retiring the last functional orbiters in the Space Shuttle program. In February 2011, space shuttle Discovery made its final flight, and in May 2011, space shuttle Endeavour launched for the last time. With both missions being successful, NASA is now planning space shuttle Atlantis' final launch, which is scheduled for July 8. 

With NASA slowly completing its Space Shuttle program, Boeing is issuing 60-day advance layoff notices to about 510 employees in the Space Exploration division. Those receiving layoff notices are about 260 employees in Houston, 150 employees at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and 100 employees at a company facility in Huntington Beach, California.

These employees' last work day will be August 5, pending the final space shuttle mission, STS-135. All workers receiving layoff notices will receive layoff benefits and career transition services. 

"We hope that the next generation exploration launch system will serve to mitigate some of these losses, but time is running out," said Brewster Shaw, Boeing Space Exploration vice president and general manager. "Our priority will be to ensure the last space shuttle mission is safe and successfully executed, allowing the Space Shuttle program to cross the finish line as a winner. We are supporting our employees in their efforts to move to other positions, and we are grateful to them for their dedicated service."

Boeing is looking to move employees to other programs like International Space Station and Commercial Crew Development.

Unfortunately, these are not the only layoffs being issued within the company. Previously, Boeing announced layoffs in the Checkout, Assembly and Payload Processing Services. About 35 notices were delivered on May 20.

"We remain committed to NASA's human spaceflight program and will continue to pursue future opportunities," said Shaw. 

While this year marks the end of NASA's Space Shuttle program, it's not the end of American human spaceflight. NASA has designed the next space exploration vehicle, called the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). Lockheed Martin is building the vehicle, which is expected to reach completion by 2016.

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