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Huntsville Space Professionals Town Hall Meeting Tomorrow (Sunday)

From HSP-

Huntsville Space Professionals and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center are proud to bring the Huntsville community the HSP Town Hall Meeting, Oct. 23, 2011, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Several private space companies, NASA and civic leaders will be there to showcase the promise and progress of commercial space development…The meeting is open to the public and free to attend, however, seating is limited and we need to know how many are coming…

Full story…

Here’s a bit more detail that HSP’s Andy Sutinen put on the group’s Facebook page-

Noted speakers at the event will be USSRC Director Dr. Barnhart, Mayor Tommy Battle, MSFC Director Robert Lightfoot, NASA HQ Dan Dumbacher, and Dynetics Vice President Steve Cook, representatives from Sierra Nevada-Dream Chaser, Zero, Bigelow Aerospace, Orbital, Space X, and Virgin Galactic. In addition, numerous local aerospace companies will also be in attendance. Please go the HSP site for more info.

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NASA is Not the Only Space Workplace Downsizing (Bigelow Too)

Bigelow joins NASA on the “downsizing” list. This is from Spacenews.com last week-

Bigelow Aerospace, which is developing inflatable space habitats for commercial use, laid off some 40 of its 90 employees Sept. 29, a company official confirmed.

“We are proceeding with a core group of fifty plus engineers, managers and support staff,” Mike Gold, Bigelow Aerospace’s director of Washington operations and business growth, said in an emailed response to questions from Space News. “This core group allows us to retain key human capital and capabilities, with which we are continuing to aggressively pursue the development and eventual deployment of the BA 330 system.”

The BA 330 is a six-person inflatable space station Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, Nev., is developing to serve commercial and government human spaceflight markets. The BA 330 is one of the proposed commercial platforms Boeing Co. intends to serve with the CST-100 space capsule it is developing with financial assistance from NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program.

Bigelow Aerospace employees told Space News that the company laid off nearly all of its machinists and that most of the workers retained are associated with the Boeing CCDev effort. Bigelow’s partnership with Boeing on the CST-100 predates Boeing’s 2010 CCDev award…

Full story…

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MSFC Still has Too Many People – CS Buyouts

The Huntsville Space Professionals (HSP) website has details of what may total as many as 120 buyouts/early outs of civil servants. Notice that even with all this fussing going on in Washington over SLS/Huntsville/Jobs etc, MSFC is still cutting back. It cut the contractor workforce all it could, and now there are too many civil servants.

From HSP-

HSP has learned that Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) sent word out to their civil servants that up to 120 positions have been identified for early buyouts. The buyouts are mostly GS-13 and up. Included are a number of management support assistants (MSA)s, program analysts and para-professionals. More than likely, the majority of the buyouts are a result of space shuttle project shutdown activities…

Full story…
Link to pdf list of positions affected…

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Huntsville Space Professionals: help and encouragement for laid off space workers

From The Huntsville Times-

Andy Sutinen and Chris McLemore, co-founders of Huntsville Space Professionals (HSP), display a lot of excitement when they talk about their organization, founded last summer to assist laid-off Marshall Space Flight Center employees in finding new positions.
They recognize the difficulties laid off employees face in finding new positions in an environment of increasing job losses, both within NASA and the Army commands locally. Finding a new position can also be a challenge, they said, when an applicant has specialized skills that may not always be adaptable to new challenges or new industries.
“Our purpose is to help each other. If we’re going to wander in the desert, let’s do it together,” said Sutinen, HSP Director. “We’re trying to tell people there is hope and to help them in any way we can,” added McLemore.
“Many of these people have been in their roles for the past 30 years or more. They do not know how to network or get back into the job market,” said McLemore.
Helping each other out is at the core of HSP’s mission, but there is another purpose: the promotion of space education. The founders are working with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to promote and extend the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, which seeks to instill interest in space exploration in children.
“It’s important that we put the excitement of space into them at an early age,” explains Sutinen.
Though only a year old, membership has already topped 1,000. Most have been laid off from contractor positions at Marshall, such as the more than 400 laid off over the past year from Jacobs Engineering and its subcontractors as funding for the Constellation program dried up. However, Sutinen says many employed contractors join to get the networking and other benefits membership brings…

Full story…

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Funding for Shuttle Retirement Work is So Screwed Up, USA Can’t Plan

This sounds a bit like the reverse of the problem at MSFC. NASA wants an SLS, but planning is so screwed up, people are still being laid off and no one knows right now when work starts back up again. At KFC, funding for work to close out Shuttle is screwed up, and they can’t even plan it 60 days out.

Sheesh.

From Florida Today-

Layoffs of local space shuttle workers are winding down after the big hit that followed Atlantis’ landing a month ago to end the final shuttle mission.

But United Space Alliance. NASA’s prime shuttle contractor, warns more cuts could be coming because of uncertainty over NASA funding for work to close out the shuttle program.

Houston-based USA by Friday will send notices to between 150 and 200 employees working under the shuttle Transition and Retirement program.

Their jobs would end Oct. 28…

Full story…

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Latest round of NASA cutting threatens 600 jobs in Huntsville

From The Huntsville Times-

The latest round of NASA downsizing is threatening another 600 Huntsville jobs, officials said Thursday. How many will actually be laid off isn’t clear, but is expected to be fewer than the number warned in accordance with federal law.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said Friday that NASA leaders told Alabama lawmakers three weeks ago that upcoming layoffs would be in the 200-400 range. “Anything inconsistent with that, that’s disappointing,” Brooks said.
The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, known as WARN, mandates 60 days notice before layoffs or plant closings so workers can seek other employment or otherwise plan for the future.
Blanket WARN notices went out Aug. 1 to workers in several Huntsville companies that provide engineering and technical support to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center…

Full story…

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United Space Alliance Makes List of Job Killers

AOL posted a list of the 12 worst job-killing companies in the US, and United Space Alliance comes in at number eight-

8. United Space Alliance
Number of Jobs Killed: 1,950
A major contractor for NASA, United Space Alliance announced in April that it would cut 1,950 jobs as the U.S. space agency began winding down its space shuttle program. The last of those flights was completed last month with the return of the Atlantis space shuttle. The end of the flights is expected to reduce United Space Alliance’s headcount by about half — to around 2,800.

Full story…

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Huntsville Times Verifies More Contractor Layoffs

Still more layoffs are in the works. The Huntsville Times has verified the report HSP made when it heard from MSFC employees that got 60-day notices about Aug 1.

The Times found a letter that Jacobs wrote to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs that details what kind of jobs end by Oct 1.

From The Huntsville Times-

Nearly 300 more aerospace jobs are threatened in Huntsville as Marshall Space Flight Center moves to what its director calls “a smaller, leaner center.”
Jacobs Technology ESTS group notified 281 workers in writing last week that their jobs could end on or before Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal government’s new 2012 fiscal year.
Jacobs has been Marshall’s primary support contractor for engineering, science and technical services since 1989.
Jacobs currently employs or supports employment for more than 500 people in Huntsville, counting people working for its subcontractors. That number is down from recent years and reflects about 300 Jacobs team layoffs last year due to the shrinking space program…

Full story…

What’s this about? It looks like (so far) that it’s all about the end of ESTS, which has been in the works since last year. ESTS gets replaced in three parts, none of which are decided yet. These three don’t just kick in on Oct 1. Some of it won’t start until well into next year.

The contract work that was called ESTS will have names like “Engineering Science Services and Skills Augmentation (ESSSA)”, or “Engineered Solutions and Prototyping (ESP),” or “Marshall Integrated Program Support Services (MIPSS).” Local small business near MSFC is hoping that MIPSS (the smallest group) starts on or near Oct 1. Some of the others (like ESP) may take as long as 6 months.

The comments on the AL.com story are a bit off target because they are blaming the current congressional delegation for more jobs lost. Well, not exactly. What is going on is Jacobs’ ESTS is expiring, which is old news. It’s not clear yet what replaces it and when.

Space work takes long term planning to minimize job disruptions. The local community deserves better. A lot of it is out of MSFC’s control and it goes back to the previous Congress that couldn’t make up it’s mind on space exploration until the last minute.

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Welcome to Our World, FAA

Bummer.

The budget squabbling in Washington, DC has now started wrecking things for the FAA. At least NASA folks now have some company.

From PBS.org-

Since July 23, the FAA has furloughed nearly 4,000 federal employees and shut down construction grants for work on control towers and other airport facilities.

The agency has also lost more than $250 million in uncollected ticket taxes. Meanwhile, Congress remained deadlocked. House Republicans already passed a bill that cut $16.5 million in subsidies for small airports under the so-called Essential Air Service Program. Members of the House went home last night, with the Senate set to follow.

And, today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signaled that Democrats might have to give way…

Full story…

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MSFC Contractors Receive WARN Act Letters

This popped up on Huntsville Space Professionals website this evening-

Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) prime contractors have received WARN Act letters, that informed them about an impending layoff coming October 1. These letters confirm news that we have been hearing about a contractor workforce cut coming to the Marshall center…

Full story…

Note: I’m not sure if this is news or old news. Today is 60 days from Oct 1, the first day of FY12. There is a large engineering support contract that is going away for FY12, and it gets replaced in three parts which have a phase in. They don’t all start Oct 1. This has been in the planning stages for months. If this is what the letters are about, it wouldn’t have anything to do with the budget-fussing that has been in the news….on the other hand, it could be foot-dragging over money because the dates to phase in the new, smaller contracts have already slipped. More on this as it develops…

Maybe things will be more clear after breakfast tomorrow…

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