Hundreds of Michoud Jobs Funded with Bill Passed by Congress

September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East will retain hundreds of jobs under a Senate-approved bill passed late last night by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-02) was among those who pushed for passage and voted in favor of S. 3729, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2010, which passed the House by a vote of 304 to 118, with 10 non-voters. The vote came at 11:29 p.m. EST following a marathon day of debates in the lower chamber.

The bill – to authorize NASA programs for fiscal years 2011 through 2013 – provides $58 billion for NASA over that three year period. It will allow for the ultimate transition towards commercial access to Low Earth Orbit, in tandem with NASA’s re-focused goals on exploration via a new HLV (Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle).

The funding will enable Michoud to keep as many as 800 jobs. This comes at a critical time for the New Orleans assembly facility. Michoud has been forced to lay off more than 60% of its work force over the past 18 months due to the retirement of the Space Shuttle, and the facility was facing even further layoffs because of the Administration’s decision to terminate the Constellation lunar mission program.

S. 3729 funds continuation of Michoud jobs as follows:

It protects the Orion crew vehicle and ensures that the crew vehicle is fully developed for deep space missions as intended, not just as an International Space Station lifeboat as the Administration planned. Work on Orion will keep between 250-300 jobs at Michoud.

It directs NASA to begin the refurbishment of ET-94, the Space Shuttle external fuel tank stored at Michoud that was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. Work on ET-94 will keep between 300-500 jobs at Michoud.

It requires NASA to move ahead with heavy lift launch vehicle development immediately, using existing Shuttle and Constellation program parts and technology. The core stage of this vehicle could only be manufactured at Michoud.

House approval came after Cao joined other members of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation in signing a letter urging colleagues to support the bill. S. 3729 now goes to the President for his signature.

Cao said, “This is a tremendous political victory for the economy of Greater New Orleans. Losing hundreds more jobs at Michoud, at a time when we’re struggling to recover from both the oil spill and Katrina as well as a national recession, would have been catastrophic. I’m thrilled and greatly relieved we were able to persuade our House colleagues to support this crucial legislation. I will persist in searching diligently for opportunities to expand the work force at Michoud.”

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