WHEN THE SPACE SHUTTLE FLEW INTO THE SUNSET LAST JULY, IT TOOK 7,000 JOBS WITH IT - "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
The final Space Shuttle mission last summer spelled the end of work for 7,000 people at the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard Country, Fla. Scott Pelley talks to some of those people and also examines the ripple effect on the local economy caused by those lost incomes in a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday, April 1 (7:00-8:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Sammy Rivera, 60, who worked on the Shuttle for 26 years, is having trouble finding a new job. He's had just three interviews in 11 months. "At the max, I figured three months. I've applied for engineering jobs� technician jobs� entry level jobs," he tells Pelley. Like others laid off from the Space Center, he's scraped together some income with menial work because he can't give up on his American dream. "This is my country. I can't let it go down without a fight."
Chris Milner and his wife also lost their jobs, but Chris had two side businesses he hoped could keep them afloat. "Everybody's been laid off. It's a ripple effect. Businesses closing down� it affects me," he says. He had to lay off nine of his employees in his landscaping business. He now works 17-hour days seven days a week to keep the lawn business going and to attend to his other sideline, sign-making. His wife is worried about his workload. "She knows what I got to do," he says. "The problem is we have a 12-year-old at the house that doesn't understand, because he's never had to go without. He's constantly asking for McDonalds. We don't get McDonalds anymore," says Milner.
Pelley and his team visited the Space Center area last summer before the real impact hit. They talked to the owner of a nearby bar where astronauts and launch spectators once gathered. "Shuttles" owner Bill Grillo, then down to eight employees from 25, vowed to remain open no matter what. When Pelley returns seven months later, Grillo has been out of business for a few months already, but is too saddened to pack up. "I can't right now. It's� too painful to do that� A lot of my heart is here and I can't take anything off the walls yet."
Some of the people affected feel pain. Others, like Lou Hanna, had their pride wounded and they feel anger. "Oh yeah," says the crane operator, who once cleared the platform before launch with his massive machine. "Because this does not have to be the last launch. It doesn't have to end this way," he tells Pelley. "I mean it just doesn't make any sense� doesn't compute, and I guess I am still in denial because I'm thinking they're going to call me back one day." Watch an excerpt.