NASA budget creates uncertainty in Clear Lake
With more than 90 percent of the Houston area's 18,000 aerospace jobs in the Clear Lake, who could doubt that NASA's new budget would have residents here on edge?
As Eric Berger and Stewart Powell wrote in this morning's Houston Chronicle:
Change came to Washington a year ago with the election of President Barack Obama, and one year later it is thundering through Houston's space community like a shuttle's sonic boom.
According to the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, the region may lose 2,200 to 2,500 jobs with the cancellation of NASA's Constellation program.
There's probably not an economic booster in the Clear Lake area who hasn't already been quoted on the issue, but this week's news of new budget priorities has residents and rank-and-file aerospace workers speaking up, too.
"The economic impact goes beyond the direct workforce numbers. There are hundreds of local small businesses that depend on a healthy JSC for their existence - not to mention the impact on the housing market, etc., etc. This is a return to the post-Apollo era with the main difference being there is no major program (like shuttle) on the horizon. Meanwhile we're going to divert millions of dollars in cold hard American taxpayer money to the Russians to take our astronauts to the station. By the time these companies figure out how to 'ferry' astronauts to the station, the program will be done and we'll be left with nothing - except maybe to watch the Indians and Chinese build a lunar habitat."
--aj_texans, chron.commons reader
"I did some work for a few years at JSC and much money is wasted there. There are way too many people working there with not enough to do. This is especially true inbetween missions. Their is plenty of work to be done there and many are busy year round, but that place is way overstaffed with contractors that can't justify what they are doing and why they are doing it. If a private sector business were run this way, it would go bankrupt right away. I understand that these cuts will hit close to home, but we are not the only area of the country hurting and we need to get leaner and meaner where need be."
--NotmeUS, chron.commons reader
"Clear Lake has been very sheltered from the economic crisis first off. Killing the constellation program isn't killing the inspiration to study the sciences either.
The thing that would create jobs and innovation in this area is for the government to clean up the federal contract process. This area is glutted with companies that really shouldn't exist at all, but do exist due to ridiculous federal contract requirements."
--FoxDelta7, chron.commons reader
"Even though I am one of the many Orion engineers that now face an uncertain future I believe this is a step in the right direction. It is time for NASA to return to its roots of government funded research and development that benifit the nation's technological base, rather than continue public relation friendly programs that are so cost limited that NASA has no room for innovation and must struggle to make ends meet with existing technology.
--Ryan, visitor to NASA's Facebook site
"This could actually have quite an impact on the economic well being of North Galveston County/Clear Lake in a relatively short time. Hopefully it will not compare to the atrophy which occurred immediately following the 1986 Challenger disaster. The entire space program was paralyzed, and it took many years for those communities to rebuild. It affected everything; employment, real estate, retail, right on down to restaurants and barbershops, it eventually trickled down. Statistics on foreclosures, bankruptcies and divorces would likely coincide with the post challenger malaise. I lived in that area then. That is why I eventually moved on."
--Michael Basham, galvnews.com reader
"I am honored to have worked at the JSC from 1994-2002 where I helped to provide weather support for the shuttle and station programs. Some of the brightest and most enthusiastic people that I have ever met worked at JSC. I left NASA in 2002 because I was frustrated the pattern of projects being cancelled just when they were starting to take shape. NASA might have replaced the shuttle years ago if it didn't have to "boldly" keep going back to the drawing board. I shake my head when I hear NASA described as a "welfare program" for scientists. If NASA is welfare, maybe GHA should leave the porch light on for some of the 4,000 people to soon be without work."
--Mark Keehn, galvnews.com reader
I'm sure there's a lot of uncertainty in the astronaut corps over the future . . . I know I'd be concerned if I were still in the corps."
--Former astronaut Leroy Chiao, a veteran of three shuttle flights and a six-month stint aboard the ISS, quoted in the Houston Chronicle.
We need to be in this for the long haul, and this program will allow us to again be pushing the boundaries to achieve new and challenging things beyond earth. I hope NASA will embrace this new direction as much as I do and help us all continue to use space exploration to drive prosperity and innovation right here on earth."
--Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut, in a statement on his Web site.
What is your take on the budget's impact on Clear Lake? Comment below or e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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