ULA trimming local jobs

Up to 70 workers affected; only two Delta II launches set

CAPE CANAVERAL — The number of local jobs launching spacecraft in Florida continues to shrink and not just because of NASA’s retiring shuttle program.

An Atlas V rocket with NASA's Juno spacecraft payload is seen the evening before it's planned launch at Space Launch Complex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 4. / GNS

United Launch Alliance, operator of Atlas and Delta rockets, will cut up to 70 Cape Canaveral positions and 180 companywide.

A key factor is the final two scheduled launches of ULA’s Delta II rockets, including one set to blast off Sept. 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a pair of NASA moon-mapping satellites.

The company also cites efforts to consolidate operations and cut costs since its formation nearly five years ago, when The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. merged their rocket fleets and formed the joint venture.

Since December 2006, the company has cut 308 positions overall and 73 at the Cape, leaving a total of 3,718 employees and 666 locally.

The current layoffs are expected to affect 55 to 70 Cape employees, some of whom left this month through voluntary departures. The rest are expected to receive notice in early September and leave about two weeks after launch of NASA’s GRAIL mission to the moon.

Other layoffs in California will follow the last scheduled Delta II launch, targeted for Oct. 25 from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

ULA headquarters in Denver, Colo., will also trim positions. All outgoing employees are being offered severance based on years of service.

ULA’s local reductions come on the heels of roughly 2,000 layoffs of Kennedy Space Center contractors that followed completion of the final space shuttle mission July 21.

Contact Dean at 639-3644 or jdean@floridatoday.com

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