1,200 NASA workers to be laid off

More than 1,200 NASA workers will be laid off Friday, despite Congress passing a $19 billion budget for the space agency two days earlier.

Lori Garver, NASA’s deputy administrator, said Thursday she didn’t believe the bill would affect planned layoffs, “certainly not for tomorrow.”

Thursday was the last day for laid-off employees to report to their workstations. Shuttle workers on their last day were to receive their final paperwork.

Many of the departing workers have worked on the shuttle program since its beginning in the early 1980s.

Late Wednesday, the House passed the NASA Reauthorization Act following the Senate’s approval, giving NASA the authority to move forward with President Barack Obama’s strategy for the agency.

The bill overwhelming passed both houses of Congress and Obama is expected to sign it. The exact amount of money each NASA program receives will be decided by congressional appropriations, but not until after the November elections.

The bill authorizes an additional shuttle launch, extending the retirement date of the shuttle program from February 2011 until June 2011. The NASA administrator said an additional shuttle mission could help stock additional supplies on the international space station. The bill extended the space station’s life until 2020.

It’s expected as the shuttle program comes to an end that more than 9,000 shuttle workers will lose their jobs.