New White House task force on NASA to focus on job loss

One estimate even predicted as many as 10,000 jobs across the country could be eliminated as part of the president's first draft of the 2011 NASA budget. Those figures quickly prompted Bolden, who supports the White House's plan, to label the matter a "very serious and real concern" for his agency.

"But this is what we call progress, unfortunately," he said in an interview last month. "If you look at every area of technology in this country, as you advance there are fewer and fewer manual-type jobs. That's what happens when you advance technology."

Obama's budget would attempt to stem that fallout by setting aside $40 million "to help the Space Coast," the home of Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The money would be used chiefly to "transform their economies and prepare their workers for the realities of tomorrow," according to the Monday memo.

To do that effectively, the task force would have to devise "an interagency action plan to facillitate economic development" and assist "affected aerospace workers so they are equipped to contribute" to the newly re-tooled NASA. The commission would have until August 15, 2010 to finalize its report, and would be dissolved within three years, the memo notes.

"The men and women who work in Florida's aerospace industry are some of the most talented and highly trained in the nation," Obama explained in his order. "It is critical that their skills are tapped as we transform and expand the country's space exploration efforts."

(This post was updated at 3:42 p.m. to clarify the space shuttle program was facing cuts.)