The main partner of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced it will lay off about 400 employees nationwide as NASA's space shuttle program winds to an end, Xinhua reported.
Houston-based United Space Alliance, NASA's primary industrial partner on the space shuttle and the International Space Station, has 9,300 employees, about 40 percent of whom are located in Houston, the Houston Chronicle newspaper reported.
Of the planned job cuts, about 60 percent will be made in Florida, and the other 40 percent in Texas, said Jeffrey Carr, a spokesman for the company which is jointly owned by the Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The employees affected were notified on Tuesday, but the layoffs will not happen until October this year.
"By making the reductions at the start of the fiscal year we can protect the majority of the work force through the end of the shuttle program," said Carr.
NASA currently plans six flights during the 2010 fiscal year, which begins in October. After those flights, NASA will end the space shuttle program and transfer its funding to the Constellation Program, which is developing the next generation of American spacecraft, according to the newspaper.