Source: Orlando Sentinel
NASA officials announced Thursday that Kennedy Space Center would manage the agency’s new effort to fly astronauts aboard commercial rockets, although it’s unclear how many jobs the proposed $5.8 billion program would generate in Florida.
KSC is also slated to get nearly $2 billion over the next five years to modernize the 1960s-era facility to enable it for the first time to launch a wide array of commercial rockets. Until now, KSC has launched only NASA-built spacecraft.
Even though details were vague, the announcement represented an effort by NASA to shift programs – and jobs – to a facility that’s slated to lose 9,000 jobs when the space shuttle is retired later this year. The announcement also included funding to fly the shuttle up until Dec. 31, in case it can’t complete its three remaining flights by the Sept. 30 end of this fiscal year.
NASA unveiled the project as part of a massive rollout of new work assignments. It’s a move aimed at quelling congressional critics who charge that President Barack Obama’s plan for the agency lacks detail and would kill the agency’s human spaceflight program.
“We went into war-room mode because we knew we had to respond to Congress and other people that were saying we didn’t have a plan,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.
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