Sad times back on Florida’s Spacecoast

There’s a reason I moved a thousand miles and took a low paying dead-end job: I used to live in Brevard County, a hop, skip, and jump away from the Kennedy Space Center, I could watch shuttle launches from my yard. Now, that region is devastated by the shuttle’s retirement, cuts to NASA, and the economy:

(CBS News) — President Obama canceled NASA’s plan to replace the space shuttle in favor of a more modest program, and then Congress slashed the funding for that. So, for the first time in 50 years America is not the leader in spaceflight. Fact is, we couldn’t launch an astronaut today if we had to. With the end of an era, we wondered what would happen to the generation that put America in space. So last July when the smoke cleared from the last space shuttle launch we stayed behind in Brevard County, Florida. The home of the Kennedy Space Center. What comes after reaching for the stars? For many, in Brevard County the answer is: a hard landing.

Never in my life has a recession has such a horrible effect on my personal circumstances. The house I lived in back in Brevard has lost over half its value, the streets look like shit, local government offices are ransacked, the employment prospects are terrible unless you want to wait tables for tips or work for minimum wage at a Taco Bell.

I’m lucky that I was able to move, no kids, no ties that bind, had a job and friends and family in another city doing much better. Most people don’t have that combo luxury, and thanks to catastrophic conservative policies, budget cuts to NASA, and general dumbassery getting a viable shuttle replacement in the works a decade ago, that region has gone to shit along with thousands of lives.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Brevard County’s history over the last half-century has been nothing but booms and busts.

    Apparently each bust gets harder, and each boom tackier.

    (Never put your money down for a motel there until you’ve seen/sniffed the room first!)

  2. The Lorax says

    There was a time when The Future (TM) was the American dream. We even had a few fairs for it. Media was saturated with “how amazing life will be in the future”. And while the comic book writers and science fiction writers were dreaming, the entity who was doing all the doing was NASA. NASA was taking those dreams and making them a reality.

    You want to bring some moral goodness and hope back to America? Give them something to cheer for, something to live for: The Future (TM), brought to you by NASA.

  3. inflection says

    But remember, according to the Right, government investment is pointless and can’t achieve anything economically useful.

  4. says

    It seems to me that NASA would be well advised to a) get the Soyuz capsule plans from the Russians and adapt them to US boosters and b) license some of Burt Rutan’s designs. We already know SpaceShipOne is a viable design, and the Shuttle program was a money pit in comparison to the robotic probes NASA’s sent out. I mean, it’s not quite off-the-shelf, but between the two of those designs, I should think NASA would be able to get something running in a couple of years.

  5. says

    Don’t need a “shuttle” – the flying bricks built in the 1970’s were never as economical or as flexible as the heavy lift solid fuel rockets: Atlas V, the Delta II, the Pegasus, Taurus (the Saturn V could put 130 tons into HIGH earth orbit vs. the Shuttles 27 tons into LOW earth orbit). NASA is on the right track developing a new generation of heavy lift rockets – Good riddance to a compromised engineered overpriced design.

  6. jakc says

    And andrewscott, let’s not forget, seemingly a less safe compromised engineered overpriced and (overpromised) design. From the perspective of someone who grew up through the space shuttle era, the shuttle didn’t seem to deliver on price, safety or reliability. Perhaps that’s too harsh an assessment, perhaps I am missing some key facts. I certainly don’t want to see the US stop going into space, but it’s hard to see how concentrating on low orbit shuttle missions for the last few decades has really advanced that goal.

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