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Job Losses For Lockheed Employees As Space Shuttle Fleet Set To Retire By 2010

By | August 4, 2008

      Thousands of job losses stemming from the space shuttle fleet retirement, long feared, are about to begin.

      Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] announced that this fall it will begin workforce reductions at the Michoud Operations in Louisiana, a state already hard hit by Hurricane Katrina.

      Layoffs will begin this fall and continue through 2010, when the space shuttle fleet is mandated to retire.

      The employees make the gigantic external fuel tanks for the shuttle at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility.

      Job cuts also will hit employees in Huntsville, Ala., and at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Lockheed announced.

      The announcement came as former astronaut and senator John Glenn asked lawmakers to supply $2.8 billion to $3 billion extra to the NASA budget so that space shuttle flights could continue until the next-generation U.S. spaceship system, the Orion-Ares, is designed, built and operational. (Please see separate story in this issue.)

      The company currently employs 2,445 at the three sites.

      Workforce reductions are necessary as various production activities near completion on the 154-foot long, 28-foot in diameter non-reusable fuel tanks, the company explained.

      All tanks necessary to support the remaining 10 planned space shuttle missions currently are in production, with two scheduled for delivery to NASA by the end of this year. Since program inception in 1973, Lockheed Martin has delivered 124 of the tanks to NASA.

      The exact timing and numbers of the reductions through 2010 will be determined by production schedules and Lockheed efforts to secure other work for affected employees. Retraining and outplacement services will be available for individuals impacted by the reductions.

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