Layoffs Continue as NASA Slows Moon Program spend
NASA has advised contractor to anticipate reduced spending on the moon bound Constellation program it plans to terminate, prompt a new round of contractor layoffs. The U.S. space agency is bound by a 2010 law to continue funding all Constellation associated contracts until Congress enacts new appropriations legislation approving the termination or reform of the program. Although the U.S. government's 2011 budget year began Oct. 1, lawmakers failed to pass any 2011 appropriations bills before exit Washington last month until mid November, leaving NASA and the relax of the federal government to operate through Dec. 3 under a stopgap measure called a continuing declaration that funds agencies at no greater than 2010 spending levels.

For NASA, that means creation do for at least the next eight weeks with 1.5 percent less than the $19 billion the White House has budgeted for the agency for 2011. Spending on group, which includes development of the Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule, is predictable to decline as much as 25 percent for the two months ahead, according to NASA spokesman Michael Braukus. In an Oct. 1 e-mail Braukus said NASA plans to instantly reduce its Constellation spending from an average rate of $282 million per month down to $212 million per month. If Congress fails to pass a 2011 plan when it returns in November and instead extends the continuing resolution beyond Dec. 3, "that amount will go lower," Braukus said.

Two years ago, when group was still going strong, NASA contractors were anticipate that expenditure on the program would have ramped up to an average of $540 million per month by now. Much of that money would have gone toward retain workers now facing layoffs as the space shuttle heads toward departure and the assembly phase of the International Space Station program nears completion. As NASA prepares to steadily diminish spending on the program, some Constellation contractor is responding with pink slips. Ares I major contractor Alliant TechSystems, for example, said Oct. 1 it would lay off about 300 Ares I workers in Utah this month.

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