Revised NASA Vision Promises 'Space Coast' Jobs
GREG ALLEN, Host:
In the two months since the White House announced it was canceling the successor program to the space shuttle, Constellation, the outcry from communities and elected officials in Florida has steadily grown. Senator Nelson says the president heard those concerns, and that's why he announced yesterday some key changes to his NASA plan, including saving part of the Constellation Program.
BILL NELSON: Not only are we now having destinations and timetable to go out and explore the cosmos, but we now have the speeding up of a heavy-lift vehicle and we have the restructuring of the Constellation program.
FRANK DIBELLO: I think it's a major step in the right direction.
ALLEN: Canceling most of the troubled Constellation Program, Dibello says, frees up the dollars to begin the work that will make those missions possible.
DIBELLO: I think what they've done is to take a strategic pause, and it's not an abandonment, it's a strategic pause in the way that they're approaching human space flight and to really invest the money to develop the technologies that will get us there in the future.
ALLEN: While the president won over some with his revised vision for NASA, he hasn't convinced everyone here, including Florida Congressman Bill Posey, a Republican who represents many space industry workers.
BILL POSEY: This is not a new plan. This is essentially the same plan that was laid out in February. They just added a new cover sheet, used a new font, added a couple footnotes.
ALLEN: In the meantime, for communities on the space coast, from Titusville to Melbourne, whose economies depend on Cape Canaveral, there's much in the president's plan to like - a promise that 4,500 space jobs will be created, and what Lisa Rice is most excited about, a $40 million fund for economic development and job training. Rice is the head of the Brevard Workforce Board. She says that money will be important in luring to the area private aerospace companies and the jobs they'll create.
LISA RICE: I see opportunities for us. My only concern right now is how fast will those opportunities come to us, because if it's two or three years from now, the workforce won't stay around. They can't.
ALLEN: Greg Allen, NPR News, Cocoa Beach.
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