Orion jobs threatened by NASA budget shortfall

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Colorado’s congressional delegation, including lawmakers from the Springs, is fighting to save about 1,000 aerospace jobs that are related to the Orion crew-capsule program.

The jobs are threatened, they said in a letter to President Obama, because of NASA’s effort to shift termination costs from the Constellation spaceflight program to private government contractors.

The federal government plans to end the Constellation project, but Orion was to be revamped as an escape vehicle for the International Space Station — a move that originally was thought to save jobs in Colorado.

Lockheed Martin has said it might cut some of the 650 jobs related to Orion in Colorado because NASA expects it to shoulder some of the costs of ending Constellation, of which Orion is a part. The company is cutting project costs by 20 percent.

The letter was signed by Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Diana DeGette, Doug Lamborn and Betsy Markey, as well as Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.

“We are concerned that NASA’s approach to addressing termination liability is contrary to your charge, and undermines the design and construction of the Orion spacecraft, jeopardizing the Orion workforce at a time when we need to be creating new jobs,” the lawmakers’ letter said.

NASA has announced the program is facing a potential shortfall of nearly $1 billion for the remaining four months of the budget year, according to SpaceNews.com. That shortfall could force contractors to scale back work on major elements of the program.

NASA said the shortfall stems from contractors failing to account for termination liability costs they could incur as a result of having to cancel orders, vacate leases and fire employees if the program is shut down.

Some contractors, such as Alliant Technologies, complain those costs have never been included in government contracts. If the costs weren’t included, the company says the Constellation program would have a surplus of $3 million.

NASA Director Charles Bolden told Congress last week that Constellation Ares rocket projects would not receive any additional funding.

In 2006, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, based in Colorado, won a $3.9 million contract to design and build Orion.

AFA announces

CyberFutures Symposium

The Air Force Association is planning a new event that will focus on the nation’s critical cyber security policies. Scheduled for March 2011 in Washington, D.C., the event will coincide with a national high school cyber defense competition.

Topics will range from developing human talent necessary for long-term cyber security, as well as defining a sustainable division of responsibility and effort in the cyber domain, while exploring novel cooperative arrangements across agencies and sectors.

The event was created because “cyber security is vital to our nation’s future,” said Mike Dunn, president of the organization.

“Cyberspace is a complicated, growing domain that is increasingly under attack,” he said.

Each year, the AFA hosts the Air and Space Conference, the Technology Exposition, as well as the Air Force Warfare Symposium and Global Warfare Symposium. For more information about the newest symposium, go to www.AFA.org.

Space Symposium: the

numbers look good

The latest Space Symposium, held April 12-15 in Colorado Springs, was better than in previous years, according to people who attended the 26th annual event.

A survey showed that 82 percent of those who had attended other conferences in the past year rated the Colorado Springs program better than the others. And more than 90 percent of repeat attendees rated it as good as — or better — than in past years.

The symposium received high marks for customer service, exhibits, its agenda and speakers; Colorado Springs earned its own praise for The Broadmoor and for the city as a destination.

About 9,000 people attended the conference, sponsored by the Space Foundation, a record number. Most of the survey’s respondents rated the opportunity to network with other companies and space professionals as the reason they attended.

Amy Gillentine can be reached at 719- 329-5205 or at amy.gillentine@csbj.com. Friend her on Facebook.