By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, said it plans to cut about 800 jobs at its space systems division by the end of the year, as it anticipates flat budgets for space programs at NASA and the Pentagon in the coming decade.
"We looked at the budget forecasts and new program starts looking at three to five years in the future and realized we need to be appropriately sized," said Charles Manor, a Lockheed spokesman. "We need to get a bit smaller" he said, because the company expects few new programs starting with the Defense Department and NASA.
"It is a very unfortunate step, but it is necessary," he said. "It is clear that DOD's space modernization effort has reached its apex. Things will be relatively flat for the foreseeable future."
Manor said the Bethesda-based company would offer a voluntary buyout plan this month to its space systems employees. The cuts will include technical, managerial and administrative positions at facilities in Denver and Sunnyvale, Calif. The reductions represent about 4.5 percent of Lockheed's roughly 140,000-person workforce.
"NASA and DOD's budgets for space are not going to grow by leaps and bounds," said Marco A. Caceres, a senior analyst and director of space studies at the Teal Group, a Fairfax industry consultant. "There's a dose of reality that's going to set in because of the economic situation."
The job cuts announced Monday come as Lockheed is also downsizing its operation in Louisiana where it makes rocket fuel tanks for the space shuttle. The shuttle is scheduled to make its last flight in 2010. Lockheed has had other job reductions in Owego, N.Y., where it makes the new presidential helicopters. A multibillion-dollar contract on the helicopters was recently canceled.