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Boeing lays off 100 workers in Huntington Beach due to end of space shuttle program

June 3, 2011 | 12:32 pm

Shuttle

With the nation’s space shuttle program coming to a close, Boeing Co. issued layoff notices Friday to 100 employees in its Space Exploration division at Huntington Beach.

The last workday for the workers is scheduled to be Aug. 5, pending completion of the final shuttle mission.  Space shuttle Atlantis is slated to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on July 8.

Boeing handed 60-day advance layoff notices to approximately 510 employees companywide. In addition to the 100 workers in Huntington Beach, about 260 employees in Houston and 150 at Cape Canaveral received pink slips.

The Chicago based-company said some of its workers were put on other programs, such as development work on the International Space Station and on a seven-person space capsule that’s designed to carry astronauts into outer space.

Many of the engineers in Huntington Beach have worked on the shuttle program for their entire careers.

The shuttle program began in 1972 when Rockwell International won a $2.6-billion contract to build the space shuttle Enterprise. Much of the engineering work was done at Rockwell’s sprawling plant in Downey.

At its height, during design and manufacturing of the shuttles, the program had about 12,000 people at the site.

When the shuttle missions began, engineers worked to provide flight support and post-flight analysis.

Rockwell merged with Boeing in 1997. The Downey plant was shuttered two years later, with the remaining workforce moving to Boeing’s complex in Huntington Beach.

Once there, the shuttle team provided engineering and project management leadership for all the hardware modifications and upgrades made on the shuttle fleet through the years.

"Our priority will be to ensure the last space shuttle mission is safe and successfully executed, allowing the space shuttle program to cross the finish line as a winner,” Brewster Shaw, Boeing space exploration vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “We are supporting our employees in their efforts to move to other positions, and we are grateful to them for their dedicated service.”

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Reflecting on Endeavour's momentous journey

-- W.J. Hennigan

twitter.com/wjhenn

Photo: Space shuttle Endeavour makes its final landing Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Bill Ingalls/ NASA

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