NASA Ends, Thousands Jobless

Laura Pisano

135 missions and an international space station later, NASA’s space program ended. Marking its final flight on July 21, 2011, the NASA space program is officially over. Thousands of employees, tourists, and spectators watched as the space ship Atlantis made its final descent down.

Although the space program was extremely beneficial, now that it has retired itself, thousands of workers are now out of a job. Many of the employees were optimistic on the program’s last day, as it was a bittersweet ending. Shuttle systems instructor, Michael Grabois said, “We all know it’s the end of the program…but we’re all here to savor the moment.” According to Florida Today, an estimated 9,000 direct employees are now jobless, in addition to another 14,000 indirect employees. CBS news estimated that for everyone job lost on the space side, there were two indirect jobs lost.

The space system provided thousands of indirect jobs that fed into the space system. Retail store, local tourist shops, restaurants, hotels, and rental facilities are now all experiencing a lot less business than usual. Without the space system, there is significantly less tourism than ever in the past. The economy of Cape Canaveral, FL is suffering more than other parts of the country. Talks of personal space crafts were brought up, to help employ the 9,000 former NASA employees.  These talks were later put down due to the amount of risk involved with personal space crafts.

NASA engineer, Angie Buffaloe told the daily mail reporter that, “I spend more time with these guys (fellow coworkers) than I do my family. We’ve been through everything: divorce, sick children, grandchildren. They’ve been there. We’ve shared a life together…and now their last day is today.” According to the daily mail reporter, NASA administrator, Charles Bolden said the agency would try to bring back unemployed shuttle workers to help on private-sector spaceflight ventures or for NASA’s effort to build a vehicle for an eventual mission to an asteroid or Mars.

In its final flight, Atlantis brought a large amount of supplies to the international space station set up throughout the years of the space program. The future for American astronauts looks grim. From now on, if an American astronaut wants to go to the space station, they have to rely on the Russians to send them. According to MSNBC, each seat for the American astronauts will cost about $63 million. There are no plans to bring the space program out of retirement any time soon.