Why Houston should cheer the Orion launch

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The anticipation of the launch of Orion -- a craft designed to eventually explore deep space and one of NASA's biggest moments since the shuttle era ended in 2011 -- has me pretty excited.

Sure it's in Florida and yes, there was no one on this flight.

But if you care about Houston or ever told an out of town friend you live in Space City, you need to care about this flight.

That capsule? It's unmanned, loaded with sensors, computers, meters and cameras. But note: It will have windows.

You know why it will have windows? For the same reason it has seats. So it can American astronauts into deep space. Maybe even mars.

And in Houston that's what we do.

Since the shuttle stopped flying, Houston's lost 4,000 space jobs.

Hundreds at NASA and more at Boeing and United Space Alliance and other contractors.

But there is some good news in all those layoffs.

Hundreds of those who were let go were of retirement age, those NASA types who helped make the shuttle in the 70s and stayed to the end.

And according to the Bay Area Economic Partnership many let go by the space industry found employment locally in other fields. Indeed, 87 percent of the ones who wanted a new job got a new job in the Houston area.

And then consider this: Space giant Boeing told the state they were planning to lay off as many as 740 people in the last three years.

But the company was able to cut that number to just 278 by shifting them to other programs like the space station, the new commercial crew vehicle or other design work.

And today they're hiring dozens more.

The point is Clear Lake is not a ghost town.

So if this test flight works and the next ones do too, some of those good high paying jobs we should be proud of are coming back to the space industry. If we're going to get men and women to an asteroid or Mars by 2030, Houston will once again be one of the first things you likely hear from them.

So celebrate this flight in whatever way you can. And hold on to those space city souvenirs. They're our history but hopefully our future too.

Today's Orion takeoff was scrubbed, but it's next scheduled to launch at Friday 6:05 am our time.

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