Final countdown for Florida’s world-famous “Space Coast”: the start of the “Atlantis” marks not only the end of the space shuttle era but means also to descend for a whole region: Goodbye with a last big party is the people of the golden age of NASA.
Dave Spain has witnessed here have pretty much everything. In 1972 he moved to Cocoa Beach, he has gone through the end of the “Apollo” years and nasty downturn years afterwards. Later, the explosion of the space shuttle “Challenger” and the combustion of the “Columbia”, those two tragedies, which have – finally led to the current departure the last shuttle launch.
“Each is also a beginning“, the 63 years old says, as he wanted to conceal the melancholy of these days with platitudes. You have survived even worse. “This is not the end of the world.”
In any case but the end of an era. This Friday at 11.26 pm local time, he should withdraw “Atlantis” from ramp 39A of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at Cape Canaveral. With the final mission STS-135, shuttle program – but a good chunk of the “Space Coast” dies not only America’s, as himself calls this area, which has lived for the “Apollo” times of the US space agency NASA.
Spain knows this better than some others. For almost 40 years he has the Comfort Inn in Cocoa Beach, a pastel hotel with 170 rooms, first as a Manager, as the owner. The guests come and go, depending on the season – and the main plan of the KSC.
Also on this weekend Comfort Inn is again fully booked as all hotels within a radius of 100 kilometers. For more than a million people are expected to live to witness the last countdown – if the recent bad weather but still literally butt in not at the last moment.
Formerly that served Comfort Inn as a VIP Center for all missions. At that time Spain was allowed to host “Stars and starlets“, before NASA carted it to KSC. Meanwhile, NASA maintained in-house their celebrities, and Spains hotel is only a well-kept tourist stop.
But how much Spain depends on, showing already his Office to this day to the shuttle: NASA memorabilia find anywhere between paperweights, bronze statues and garden gnomes. “I expect that this autumn will be very bleak.” sighs of Spain, insisting at the same time: “The NASA is here continue to play an important role.”
That is behind it probably mostly wishful thinking, even insiders give a. About Virginia Barnes, the Executive Head of the United Space Alliance (United States), a joint subsidiary of Boeing and Lockheed, which NASA has outsourced the shuttle operation already mid-1990s. “The times are very frustrating, very uncertain.” says Barnes as quote by Mirror.
Not only 7500 NASA employees will lose their jobs as a whole. Experts fear that the end of the shuttle the region up to 15,000 jobs could – cost restaurants, retail, service. Car dealers-sealing, suppliers going broke, and the already ailing property market will collapse again because the NASA forced pensioners to pull.
Right now the unemployment rate of the District of Brevard is 10.8 percent, far higher than the national average. Pessimists predict a record rate of up to 20 percent soon. “It’s incredibly hard to adopt all these people, their lives have been working on the shuttle program, which are true icons in their field.” says Barnes. So United States employees are rid at KSC until late August alone up to 1950 their jobs.
With them much expertise disappears, perhaps even permanently. “Some skills are caused by 30 years practice, We cannot afford it, to have simply lost this knowledge.” says Barnes. Because in all probability will used it again in a few years.
But after a last, gigantic party shuttle concludes the cat comes first. “Next week we will wake up disillusioned.” Rob Varley, head of the “Space Coast” of cosy tourism white. After revelatory account will lose next year the region US$100 million by the end of the missions of economic input.
It’s the final countdown for a strip of land which is not for nothing has the telephone area code 321. The withdrawal of the shuttle meets above all Cocoa Beach and Titusville. The aerospace boom of the 1960s made worldwide Beach to the fastest-growing place of the United States – and the “Space Coast” to the term.
After the end of “Apollo” program had ever become the ghost town of Titusville, recovered thanks to the shuttle but quickly. The number of hotel rooms has tripled since then, the number of condominiums grew even faster. Soon no more demand for both.
The shuttle schedule determined the pace of life
The shuttle schedule certain that now comes, the pace of life of entire generations, no one quite knows. The private operator United States considered originally to operate the shuttle itself, to offer commercial trips into space twice in a year. Before two months but, says Barnes, you had come to believe, that there is too little political and financial support for it.
Nevertheless, the space Manager speaks of a “stable business” with the the next three to five years after all the remaining jobs are safe. On the one hand that operate United States also the international space station (ISS) and to work for NASA on the new space capsule “Orion“. On the other hand, the experts work together with private space companies such as SpaceX developing manned space projects on behalf of NASA.
SpaceX is on everyone’s lips here. With whom you chat about the end of shuttle time – the private company is regarded as the greatest hope of the “Space Coast“. “We look forward to this next chapter.” says Brevard’s District Manager Howard trip, which will be a sand sculpture of a space shuttle in his vestibule.
There will be a final, bittersweet farewell. Hotel owner Dave Spain wants to watch the “Atlantis” start on the beach. “We have survived the end of Apollo, we have survived “Challenger” and “Columbia” we will survive.”” he says.