Space industry workers consider new future
July 8th, 2011
03:02 PM ET

Space industry workers consider new future

With Friday's launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis marking the end of NASA's 30 year long shuttle program, CNN's Bob Costantini talks with some career space industry workers who depended on the program for their livelihood about what they plan to do next.

To a visitor at an Irish pub in Cocoa Beach, it seems fittingly like a wake. Regulars come in wearing shirts with a variety of logos related to Space Shuttle missions. They hug, kiss and lament the passing of an era.

The Space Coast, as it's called throughout Brevard County is shivering at the thought that no one system is set to replace the shuttle regularity. Some 7,000 jobs have been or will be eliminated, once Atlantis touches down and is mothballed for the Kennedy Space Center visitors' center a few miles west of the launch pad.

"We actually watched the astronauts come out in the van. And they'd stop right there," by the launch pad, according to Garry Broughton. He started with the Shuttle in 1978, three years before the first launch. Broughton is an engineer who helped design and build up the rocket booster and tank systems.

"We'd walk out by the road and wave [the astronauts] on," Broughton recalls. "It was great, ya know!"

Broughton is 57, an age where he qualifies for a partial pension from United Space Alliance, an amalgamation of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, that does combined contract work for NASA. Only problem is, USA as it came to be known, has had to lay off about 1900 workers along the Space Coast.

"I planned on working [to] 62. I plan on going back to work," Broughton tells CNN Radio. "I just hope some money moves around here, because there's so many people looking for jobs." 

He tells of friends who've taken work in Afghanistan. Others have moved away.

The Space Coast future is as cloudy as a late summer afternoon in much of Florida. There is no set path on to the next manned program, though the Obama Administration is pushing "Orion," a plan to get into deep space and maybe to Mars. President Bush wanted to get men back to the Moon.

Much of the uncertainty lies in Washington's increased budget and deficit battles. NASA is an easy target. For now, any Americans going heavenward will have to get to the International Space Station via the Russians.

For now, Broughton reflects on his 30-plus career in the space industry before considering what he'll do next.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Igor Tallinji

    Russians have made quiet offers to many to go to Russian and work. Call that a reverse brain drain.

    July 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  2. brown

    America was once the most highly respected country in the world, look what your country means to the world now!

    Keep on re-electing them!

    July 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  3. Renee

    There are many more important things to do with our money that go to space. It is of no value to us as a nation or world to try to get to Mars or to have landed on the moon. Just because of someones curiosity and trying to get there first. Let's take care of our own world and leave space alone. The space program is just stupid and now govenment is finally taking the money away from it. I can't stand Obama, why is anyone surprised he didn't keep his word, the man is a total fraud. You got what you voted for.

    July 9, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  4. Carol

    Great job Garry on the interview! Last launch today was bittersweet for the Space Coast. It was like the early years of the program – people were lined up across the space coast, coming out of their home and tears in their eyes. God Bless Atlantis and crew. God bless the Space Coast! Hopefully there will be jobs to replace all those that have been lost -soon!

    July 8, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  5. Rosanna

    Big salute to all at NASA who made all this possible. You have much to be proud of.
    What skilled humans can do.
    Props to flight instructor, what a talent

    God Bless

    July 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  6. dan blake

    Obama is a liar and a thief. During his election speach in Brevard County Florida he promised to extend the shuttle program until a future launch vehicle would come of age and to continue our obligation to support the ISS. Now he has sold to the Russians which is more expensive to fly our people to ISS than the shuttle program and he has completely destroyed NASA and many jobs in the area as he stated "Not one person will loose there job at the space center under my watch" This is an evil, manipulative, lying, arrogant, egotistical, self centered crook...I bet Hillary Clinton would not have destroyed NASA. Maybe we can outsource our next president to another country we have done with everything else from food, clothes, cars and now our space program!!!

    July 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Igor Tallinji

      You can not fund it. China has ruined your economy and you have happily complied by spitting on it. USA is finished in Space.

      July 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • leopoldo justo

      not true blake, it is regretfully cheaper to fly in a russian made rocket then the shuttle, tho i wished that the orion project wasn't scrubed,,,all parties are guilty both REBULICANS and dems,,,,,outsoursing starteded with the republican caplislism,,,its just as bad as socialists

      July 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

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