Adding thousands to already swollen unemployment statistics, NASA will begin notifying employees involved in the space shuttle program that their services are no longer required upon the safe landing of the space shuttle Atlantis.
Thirty Year Shuttle Program Closing Shop
The return of the Atlantis marks the end of a 30-year long program of manned space flight for NASA. As the future of human space flight enters a period of doubt, NASA has no choice but to lay-off what amounts to thousands of workers who have been involved in creating the space shuttle program.As of Friday about 1,500 NASA employees were notified that their tenure at NASA is coming to an end. As the entire program winds down and is completely disbanded a total of 8,000 workers will have been dismissed. When the space shuttle program was flying at its peak NASA engaged the services of some 11,000 employees.
NASA Still Planning Missions
However, it should be noted that the demise of the space shuttle program is not anything close to the end of NASA. Astronauts are scheduled to continue living for long stretches on the International Space Station at least until 2020. Obama has suggested the exploration of asteroids in the neighborhood and even a proposed landing on the planet Mars.There is a probe pointed at Jupiter ready to launch this coming August, and a Mars rover vehicle whose name is ‘Curiosity’ is on line for launching come November.American astronauts wishing to get to the ISS will have to pay for their passage on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Each ticket costs of $60 million, a lot of money but still far less than the cost of the space shuttle program to the US government.