Today is the 50th anniversary of NASA. The space agency began operations on October 1, 1958. Here in Houston, Johnson Space Center is home to mission control. Soon a transition will be made from launching the space shuttle to a new moonship in 2010. Currently 16,500 people are employed at Johnson Space Center. Estimates are between 600 and 2,400 people will lose jobs. Activities at the international space station will slow by 2016. The current number of astronauts is 120 and will likely reduce to fewer than 90.
According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, "The Johnson Space Center has always been about development and operating human spacecraft, planning missions, training flight crews and flight control. That's not going to change," said NASA's Wayne Hale, a 30 year agency veteran. "If anything, there is more work to do than the workforce in the area is capable of doing."
"Earlier this year, Hale left his job as shuttle program manager to help the space manager to help the space agency ease the transition to the moon project as one of NASA's top strategic planners."
"The future development projects assigned to Johnson include a lunar lander, moon shelters and rovers. Engineers at Johnson will also lead the development of equipment to mine the moon for oxygen, hydrogen and other resources to produce water, breathable air and, perhaps, rocket fuel."
Another recent article deals with the $630 billion budget the President received, which included $20.2 billion next year for NASA, a $2.6 increase of what the Bush administration requested. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, all but a declared candidate for Governor in the upcoming race, said,"With other countries moving forward with manned spaceflight, the stakes are too high for America to lose its edge as the world leader in space exploration."
And this - Monday NASA postponed a mission to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope until February, at the earliest. "The delay, officials said, was needed by engineers to prepare a spare data formatter, similar to a part that failed aboard the Hubble, the official said."
"The flight, which will feature five spacewalks, had been set for an Oct. 14 liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Last week, NASA postponed the mission by four days so the astronauts and controllers could make up training sessions that were missed when Johnson Space Center was closed for 11 days because of Hurricane Ike. Astronauts have not flown to the Hubble since March 2002."
Happy Anniversary, NASA. Houston is proud to be Space City.