NASA's Main Shuttle Contractor to Cut 15% of Workforce

Economic shock waves from the impending end of NASA's space shuttle program hit as the program's biggest contractor, United Space Alliance (USA), announces it is cutting 15 percent of its workforce.

As NASA's final two space shuttle launches loom on the not-too-distant horizon, the fears of many of those who work in the shuttle industry are coming true: NASA's main space contractor, United Space Alliance (USA), announced that the company will lay off about 15 percent of its current space shuttle workforce, effective Oct. 1, 2010.
USA employs approximately 8,100 employees at its Florida, Texas and Alabama sites. The reduction in force will affect multiple disciplines and multiple organizations across the company. It is expected to impact about 800 to 1,000 employees in Florida, about 300 to 400 employees in Texas, and about 10 in Alabama. The company said the cuts were necessary "in order to align the workforce level with the company's space shuttle program operations contract work scope and current budget."
Company President and CEO Virginia Barnes said while the company's workforce has known about the end of the shuttle program for some time, the cuts will nevertheless be painfully felt by employees. "The accomplishments of this team are unmatched in human spaceflight," she said. "We acknowledge the tremendous talent and commitment of our teammates and congratulate them on their achievements. We are committed to making this transition as smooth as possible."
USA was formed as a joint venture between Rockwell International and Lockheed Martin in response to NASA's desire to consolidate multiple shuttle contracts to one company. Barnes, a veteran Boeing executive and the first woman to serve as the company's president and CEO, joined USA just three months ago. A company release stated all employees subject to the layoff will receive severance compensation and access to support for resume development, job interview training and career transition training.
"Though USA will be a significantly smaller company after the space shuttle program is completed, we are optimistic about our future," Barnes said. "USA has a great deal to offer in the way of skills, experience and expertise, and we are looking forward to providing our unique capabilities to a wide variety of new and existing customers."
Though the shuttle program is nearly finished, USA holds contracts for additional NASA projects, including the Integrated Mission Operations Contract (IMOC) to provide flight operations support for the Constellation Program, a human spaceflight initiative, and the International Space Station (ISS) program through 2011. That is unlikely to deflect criticism of President Barack Obama's future plans for the space agency and the end of the shuttle program, which has sparked anger from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.