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  (Source: imgur.com)
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: And they wanted what?
By mmatis on 7/17/2012 5:06:55 PM , Rating: 1
YOu might want to note that the bulk of those engineers are NOT NASA employees, but were instead contractors employed by the United Space Alliance (USA), Boeing, and others. The shuttle was an EXTREMELY complex system, and errors in processing even the hold-down bolts would be catastrophic. And those hold-down bolts were explosively sheared at launch, so it wasn't the "same" 3 - really 8 - bolts in that particular system. But then I expect you don't really mind having a Mickey D's burger flipper do arthroscopic surgery on your knees, do you?


RE: And they wanted what?
By bah12 on 7/17/2012 5:25:47 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for proving my point. It needed to die BECAUSE it was so complex. NASA had a vested interest (if not political mandate) in keeping it going , even though it had loooooonng outlived its usefulness. I'd rather have them progressing to a next gen craft than employing hordes of engineers to keep an aging system flying.

I'm not denying the great value NASA brings, but clearly they were a bloated mess. They need to refocus on a newer system. Unfortunately a thinner leaner NASA means 7400 engineers looking for work. I hope NASA gets the funding back to start working on a productive project, the shuttle has not been one for quite some time.


RE: And they wanted what?
By knutjb on 7/18/2012 1:41:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm not denying the great value NASA brings, but clearly they were a bloated mess. They need to refocus on a newer system. Unfortunately a thinner leaner NASA means 7400 engineers looking for work. I hope NASA gets the funding back to start working on a productive project, the shuttle has not been one for quite some time.
I think you fail to appreciate the complexity of flying a vintage spacecraft safely . So instead of funding creative engineers we are funding an expanded welfare system paying similar wages to the bureaucrats. Bang for the buck? The problem we have when this happens we loose the knowledge and experience. The same thing happened when the Apollo program was killed. Now we pay $50M for each astronaut launched by Russia. That wasn't too bright when you consider what the shuttle could do. Try fixing anything in space now. Nope we will just watch multi-billion dollar satellites shine bright in the sky, yeah.

quote:
Thanks for proving my point. It needed to die BECAUSE it was so complex. NASA had a vested interest (if not political mandate) in keeping it going , even though it had loooooonng outlived its usefulness.
Do you have any idea how complex it is to go to space? You don't go to the airport and hop on a spacecraft. NASA is usually the first agency to take a hit during economic downturns. They don't have that much clout in pushing their worth. As for its service life it was at its end. They didn't run it decades, or even years beyond its projected service life.

quote:
I'd rather have them progressing to a next gen craft than employing hordes of engineers to keep an aging system flying
Congress kept putting off a replacement vehicle and Obama killed it. He round-filed our exceptionalism. NASA's budget was relatively small. At least they produced something, unlike much of the federal government.


RE: And they wanted what?
By delphinus100 on 7/18/2012 9:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you have any idea how complex it is to go to space? You don't go to the airport and hop on a spacecraft.


Do you know how complex a wide-bodied jet is?

Yet they don't require the kind of 'standing army' of support per vehicle or flight that Shuttles did. But once you have that situation, a great deal of comfort grows around the status quo, and there's a lot of resistance to change, and a lot of pain when it inevitably happens.

No one wants to see good engineers and technicians lose their jobs, but the number of people employed to make it possible (and therefore, one of the reasons it was too expensive to continue to operate), should not be considered a figure of merit for government-operated space access, any more than for a private company...

I'm sorry that the next generation manned spacecraft was not a better RLV, but it was time. And even what's coming are not your father's capsules/lifting bodies...


RE: And they wanted what?
By Bubbacub on 7/19/2012 6:44:19 AM , Rating: 2
the in orbit repair argument is a crock of siht.

the extra ruinous cost of the shuttle compared to saturn or any other dumb booster would pay for 10 brand new hubble telescopes.

there is no benefit in terms of money or risk to astronauts in keeping the shuttle running to repair dud satellites.


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