Tough week for aerospace sector – Los Angeles Daily News

It’s been a rough week for the aerospace sector.

Storied Aerojet Rocketdyne, which has been tapping the region’s supplier base for years, had more jobs whacked on Wednesday and that has a ripple effect throughout the sector.

A disturbing message was being sent.

“There was nothing coming in. Nobody was doing anything,” said a source who survived the purge and was not authorized to speak on the record.

It made for a “weird” day he said as 162 of his colleagues were walked out the door.

Spending on defense and space exploration is dwindling and that means less work for engineers who design and test the powerful rocket engines make with parts from subcontractors.

Word about the cuts came in a January memo from company president Warren M. Boley Jr. and about 800 of the 1,200 workers at the DeSoto Avenue eventually received layoff warnings.

Boley followed up Wednesday with another one and the tone was not encouraging.

“I appreciate that these situations can be upsetting to our remaining employees who may be concerned, not only for their former co-workers, but about the overall health of the company and their own job security. That’s why I want to assure you that Aerojet Rocketdyne is a strong company with a solid future,” he wrote.

That was followed up with this caveat.

“We will continue to evaluate our staffing levels to ensure that we can support the needs of our employees, our business and our customers.”

Company officials met with laid-off employees and their spouses on Thursday to discuss their separation package.

So the Rocketdyne presence has been diminished, but its legacy remains intact.

The stuff it made worked under some pretty harsh conditions.

In 2011 company had a 14-0 record in blasting payloads into space, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars rover Curiosity and the final Space Shuttle crew.

Rocketdyne built the shuttle’s main engines used on 135 flights during the course of the program.

That earned a shout-out from Atlantis commander Chris Ferguson right after main engine cut off for the final shuttle journey into space that summer.

“We would like to thank the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne team and the SSME team for their flawless performance over this 30-year shuttle flight history,” Ferguson said over the radio. “It’s a 7,000-pound engine that puts out one-and-a-half million pounds of thrust and they have pitched the equivalent of a perfect game every flight. From everyone who has ridden on these rockets, we thank you.”

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