Thursday, June 26, 2014

Boeing warns employees about potential layoffs

     The Boeing Company has reportedly sent out notifications to more than 200 of their employees who work for the company in Texas  and Florida. These potential layoffs may occur if Boeing is not awarded NASA’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract. The announcement as to which of the companies competing under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will be tapped to moved forward under CCtCap will be made in the coming months.
     “It’s just a standard way … to minimize potential business impact,” said John Mulholland, Boeing Commercial Crew program manager, in the original report.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is one of a growing number of NASA-sponsored initiatives to encourage the commercial sector to provide services that at one point were only the purview of the space agency. This open competition, supported by NASA funding, is designed to have private companies develop a new spacecraft that will be used for transporting cargo and crew members to the International Space Station (ISS) no-earlier-than 2017.
     CCDev began its first phase in 2010, with five companies receiving funds to develop possible spacecraft, including Boeing. The CCtCap phase is set to be awarded in the next few months by NASA. This will allow companies to move forward with final developmental activities and ultimately might lead to the return of manned spaceflights from U.S. soil.
     The notice Boeing gave to it’s employees covers potential downsizing that can come from the suspension of their Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft development if the company isn’t selected for CCtCap. This notice is mandated by U.S. law by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), that was passed by congress in 1988. It states that a 60-day advanced notice must be giving to employees by their employer about potential layoffs.
     If Boeing isn’t selected then cuts to their employees can go into effect, but if Boeing is selected by NASA to continue, the company has the option to disregard the WARN notice and move forward with CST-100’s development. Spacenews.com also reported on claims that Boeing will expand employment in Florida by 75 new jobs if they are selected by NASA.
     The report also mentions that the CCtCap decision could also impact construction by United Launch Alliance (ULA) on a crew access tower at Launch Complex 41. Work on ULA’s tower should begin around September of this year and would focus on ULA’s agreement to provide launch services to Boeing’s CST-100 and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser spacecraft, with both spacecrafts potentially being launched by ULA’s Atlas V rocket.
     The three private companies and their spacecrafts, looking to be NASA’s go-to crew launch service provider, are Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) Dragon, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser, and Boeing’s CST-100. In total, NASA has spent more than $1.5 billion in contract awards for companies working on CCP including $362 million to Sierra Nevada, $544.6 million to SpaceX, with Boeing receiving the lion share of these awards at $621 million.

Source: Irene Klotz and spacenews.com.

By James Tutten

(Above image credit: Boeing / Rob Bulmahn)

(Published at www.spaceflightinsider.com on June 26, 2014.)

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