Print 63 comment(s) - last by Visual.. on Jul 23 at 6:29 AM

It has been challenging for the engineers to find jobs that pay as well as NASA

Engineers that once earned six-figure incomes with NASA's space shuttle program are now looking for work or taking jobs that are far below their skill level due to the retirement of the Discovery, Endeavor, and Atlantis shuttles. 

Last year, NASA retired each of the three remaining spacecraft in the U.S. space shuttle program, which lasted nearly 30 years. In February 2011, Space Shuttle Discovery was the first of the three to launch on its final mission with Space Shuttle Endeavour following in May 2011. Space Shuttle Atlantis was the last to go in July 2011.

Since the space shuttle fleet's retirement, about 7,400 engineers from the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida (also known as the Space Coast) were laid off. Today, there are only 8,500 workers at the Kennedy Space Center total when there used to be around 15,000.

A majority of those laid off were individuals in their 50s and 60s who made in the realm of $80,000 to over $100,000 annually. But now, these engineers are finding it difficult to locate jobs at their skill level that pay as well as NASA did. In fact, local Brevard County employers have asked that the Brevard Workforce, which is an unemployment agency, stop sending ex-space employees to them because they want salaries that are comparable to what they made at the Kennedy Space Center.

"STOP sending former Space Center employees," wrote one local employer. "They have an unrealistic salary expectation."

Aside from money issues, another problem the former engineers are facing is age. Many have been working for the Kennedy Space Center for decades. Other engineering options mainly take in the younger generations.

"Nobody wants to hire the old guy," said Terry White, a 62-year-old ex-project manager for the space shuttle program who was laid off last summer. "There just isn't a lot of work around here. Or if so, the wages are really small."

NASA's space shuttle fleet is gone for good, but some saw hope in the private sector, such as SpaceX. SpaceX is a California-based space technology company that recently stepped in when NASA retired the space shuttle program. Its Dragon spacecraft made history recently when it made the first private spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS).

However, SpaceX didn't require nearly as many employees as NASA did for its space shuttle fleet.

To make up for the loss, many former engineers are stuck having to either retire early, take lower-paying jobs, or collect unemployment.

Source: MSNBC

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RE: o rly
By WalksTheWalk on 7/17/2012 10:30:13 AM , Rating: 4
Government is no more or less likely to be efficient than the private sector, however the private sector will EXPLOIT a localized monopoly while the government will not. BOTH types can develop numerous layers of middle managers that do little besides file reports and draw a paycheck.

This is hogwash. The government is almost always less efficient than private industry because they a monopoly position and, therefore, no incentive to keep costs down. Much of the time the government is also subject to other self-imposed rules such as: unionized labor, Cadillac heathcare plans, etc. They also aren't subject to taxes and other regulations that private industry is subject to.

The notion that governmental broadband can be cheaper is because it would subsidize it through other means and the true cost is not borne by the subscriber. In theory they could do it cheaper, but their inefficiencies don't allow it.

The fact that private companies are allowed to exploit a monopoly position isn't any better. Also keep in mind that government is allowing them to do it through a licensing agreement. (cough *bribe* cough)

All we need to do is require that the lines be leased at a fair market rate by any ISPs. Competition will ensue and prices will decrease. If cable companies elect to not install more lines, all the government needs to do if put bids out for other companies to install and maintain the lines. Again, competing for the business.

RE: o rly
By bah12 on 7/17/2012 10:38:16 AM , Rating: 3
The government is almost always less efficient than private industry because they a monopoly position and, therefore, no incentive to keep costs down

Which is exactly the problem with this story. Of course they are having a hard time finding work. They had way more engineers than they needed, and they paid them too well. Typical government bloat. These guys milked the salary for years, with great benefits to boot, and now that the well is dried up they realize just how overpaid they were considering the rest of the market.

RE: o rly
By Rott3nHIppi3 on 7/17/2012 10:56:35 AM , Rating: 2
Of course they are having a hard time finding work. They had way more engineers than they needed, and they paid them too well. Typical government bloat.

Ding! Postal Service is getting whacked next.. wait till [they] start applying for FedEx and UPS; will be the same story.

RE: o rly
By Chernobyl68 on 7/18/2012 2:10:27 PM , Rating: 2
Paid them too well? are you aware of the education and experience in most engineering fields, let alone aerospace and electrical engineering? $80,000 a year is not overpaid, even in Florida.

RE: o rly
By MadMan007 on 7/17/2012 12:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
At least for broadband, there are enough examples to counter this statement "In theory they could do it cheaper, but their inefficiencies don't allow it." Look up lusfiber.

Whoopsie. The only thing 'special' about municipal broadband is that the buildout is funded through muni bonds, but at the same time companies issue bonds to raise capital as well.

I think perhaps the balance is that while there is an assumed government inefficiency, government also isn't required to wring as much profit as possible out of the service. It appears that at least in the case of broadband, the latter is able to reduce prices more than the former increases them.

RE: o rly
By WalksTheWalk on 7/17/2012 1:54:32 PM , Rating: 2
This is where we differ on ideology. In my book, just because the government can do something doesn't mean it necessarily should do it. Government should not be competing with private business because they set the rules and the rules will always be in the government's favor.

If government can do it better, why shouldn't the government build computers, provide cellular service or make autos and compete with companies that do it? Because it's not the government's role.

Where we have a shared requirement for a modern society to operate such as roads, power or telecommunications infrastructure, by all means the government should take on the role of building out the infrastructure and taxing accordingly to cover its costs. When it comes to providing service over that infrastructure, the government needs to provide a level playing field for business to compete using the provided infrastructure.

RE: o rly
By MadMan007 on 7/17/2012 10:47:50 PM , Rating: 1
Well, this is the first problem
This is where we differ on ideology
.. starting from an ideological viewpoint and working backwards.

But then you go and say this, which is sort of half way toward government-run services.
the government should take on the role of building out the infrastructure and taxing accordingly
If the voters in a municipality support municipal communication service, shouldn't they be able to have it?

And I really wouldn't want private sector provided water, police, roads.

RE: o rly
By WalksTheWalk on 7/18/2012 9:23:31 AM , Rating: 2
In your argument you mention that the government is in the best position to provide internet access. Internet access is composed of the physical lines and the service that connects and routes your requests. Using your model, the government is in the best position to not only provide roads but also provide all shipping across those roads making it somehow cheaper.

What I'm saying is that in a modern society, the government should provide certain shared infrastructure which is required to advance society where the government is in the best position to do it due to certain logistical and legal problems. The infrastructure that makes sense to do this with (roads, power and telecommunications lines) crosses many legal boundaries such as various public and private properties. The Government entity (or government-sponsored entity) is the only entity that has the right of way and legal force to provide and maintain the infrastructure, so it makes sense for them to contract for its construction and maintenance. Government also has the ability to limit their liability so they cannot (typically) be liable if some hits a pothole then crashes, or a power line falls in a storm and injures someone. Private companies should then be able to use the infrastructure to provide services to the population such as telecommunications, leasing the lines from the government.

If the voters want to grant a local municipality a monopoly on certain services that's their business, but they do so at the mercy of their local government and the ultimate detriment of their municipality. All I'm saying is that it's typically a recipe for inefficiency, abuse and waste over time.

To your point about private water, police and roads, again the government is the only entity that can provide these since they need to cross many legal boundaries. If you think these items are provided and managed efficiently then I just can't help you.

RE: o rly
By gnac on 7/18/2012 12:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
Stay off the toll roads - many of them are NOT owned by the Government. As far as water goes - many people in the country are getting water from private companies - and police - get rid of all private security?

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