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Jul 17 2012

NASA engineers on the outs, Newspace could help

Former NASA employees in my former neighborhood are finding out what the rest of us knew for years: the Spacecoast job market sucks even in good times, now it’s virtually un-inhabitable. I feel bad for them, not all of them voted for the economic policies that rewarded repackaging and reselling shady derivatives over actually making things. The ones that did were classic GOP mushroom people: kept in the dark and fed a diet of bullshit:

USA Today — Nobody wants to hire the old guy,” said Terry White, a 62-year-old former project manager who worked 33 years for the shuttle program until he was laid off after Atlantis landed last July 21. “There just isn’t a lot of work around here. Or if so, the wages are really small.” White earned more than $100,000 a year at the end of his career at the space center. The prospects of finding a job that pay anywhere near that along the Space Coast are slim.

Regular readers know I’m a big proponent of Newspace. But one place that industry and the lobbyists working for it could do a much better job, in my view, is to hire more people from the industry and write ledge for tax credits and other benefits for the firms that do it. I’ve also heard anecdotal claims some companies in the Newspace industry over select younger employees in lieu of those like Terry White. Those claims could be easily put to rest by action.

Department heads, principal investigators, high-end scientists with lots of degrees and accomplishments, those folks seem to do OK. But too many rank and file engineers, techs, mid level managers, all with a wealth of experience in the most cutting edge occupational obsession on and off earth, are struggling. The era of Newspace initial public offerings are coming, it seems like when that happens, when the firms are flush with investor cash, that would be a good time to broaden their employee base.

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