From: Rep. Dave Weldon
Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2008
His SPACE Act Legislation Would Bring "Soft Landing" to Layoffs and Shuttle Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today NASA was forced to report that there will be far more layoffs at Kennedy Space Center and other major manned space flight centers across the country than the public had previously been led to believe. Because of his concern for the draconian job losses that seemed poised to hit KSC in particular, last year Rep. Dave Weldon successfully fought to secure House passage of an amendment requiring NASA to produce this report and update it every six months.
In today's "Workforce Transition Strategy Initial Report," NASA estimated that there will be at least 6,400 jobs eliminated between FY 08 and FY 2011 at Kennedy Space Center alone. Of those 6,400 layoffs, NASA forecasted that 4,800 will come all in one year - 2011. These numbers could grow if problems arise with the Constellation program due to technological or funding issues.
Rep. Dave Weldon said, "This report only confirms what I have been saying for the last several years. The Bush Administration's space plan is woefully inadequate and unacceptable. The Administration's current plan is to cede the 'ultimate high ground' to hostile nations. The Chinese and Russians are celebrating today, while many on the Space Coast are only now realizing the magnitude of the absurdity of the current strategy imposed by the Administration."
The report also exposed that NASA currently has only a 33% confidence level that it will be able to have the next manned spaceflight vehicle, Constellation, ready for flight by 2013. That confidence level rises only to 65% for a launch in 2015. This means that even if this massive project experiences no delays or unforeseen issues, the minimum time that America will be shut out of space is 5 years. This reports seems to reflect the increased likelihood that the "gap" could actually widen beyond 5 years. This comes as China is working feverishly to surpass U.S. space dominance, and as Russia is becoming increasingly hostile.
"While I have been sharing these concerns with my colleagues for some time now, they have had difficulty grasping what this will mean not only to East-Central Florida, but to the entire state. My colleagues in the Senate haven't seemed to grasp the scope of this debacle and the urgency with which we must act. That is why I asked for this report. We need to know the facts and what the results will be if we don't change course. Pro-space rhetoric is nice to hear but it does little to address the very real calamity our Space Coast is facing. I am hopeful that this dose of reality will bring the delegation together to address this issue as a state priority," said Weldon.
The only legislative solution to address the gap has been proposed by Rep. Weldon. His legislation, also cosponsored by Rep. Tom Feeney, would address the dramatic workforce layoffs and national security implications. The SPACE Act (H.R. 4837) would close the "space gap" on both ends by accelerating the completion of Constellation by adding additional funding, and by continuing to fly the Shuttle for two missions per year through the "gap." The "space gap" is the period in which America will be unable to access space or deliver astronauts or cargo to the ISS, and is considered to be a major national security issue.
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