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Boeing cuts 100 workers in Huntington Beach

June 04, 2011|By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

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

In all, Boeing, a major subcontractor on the shuttle program, handed 60-day advance layoff notices to about 510 employees companywide. In addition to the 100 workers in Huntington Beach, about 260 employees in Houston and 150 in Cape Canaveral received pink slips.

The Chicago 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 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 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."

william.hennigan@latimes.com

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