The State of Constellation
My workplace is in an odd state, and has been since February 1. On the one hand, you've got the President, whom the agency reports to, proposing a budget that would close down the Constellation Program; and on the other hand, you've got a law on the books, passed by Congress, which says that NASA can't radically change or cancel the program without Congressional approval. And really, the budget process has just begun. What to do, what to think?
The best thing I can do right now is sit back and wait. The debate on the 2011 budget is still in the early phases. The good news is that the Ares Projects have been given marching orders to continue to do the work they'd planned to do for 2010, so I'm probably cool job-wise through at least the end of the fiscal year (September 30). Beyond that, NASA will still need writers, still need engineers and other folks. Perhaps not as many in some places as in others. The places and people that depended on human spaceflight will be hurting. There will be new work (assuming the President gets his way, and it's hard to see how he won't) in technology, which will provide work for some folks, but probably not the SAME people who were doing work on Shuttle or Constellation. Different types of work involved--different skill sets--and those people will have to go elsewhere.
Because I support communication efforts and the Ares Projects' Manager, and also because I'm a bit of a know-it-all, some folks have asked me, "Have you heard anything [about the future state of Constellation]?" or "What do you think is going to happen?" Answer: not a clue, save what I've said above, and all that is pretty obvious. Do I know concretely what will happen to the budget or the workforce? Nope. Just riding it out one day at a time. Stay tuned. No doubt there will be more drama to follow.