Huntsville Space & Rocket Center lays off over 100 staff

Huntsville Space & Rocket Center lays off over 100 staff
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a large white building: The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) -- More than one-third of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s workforce has been permanently laid off.

Spokeswoman Pat Ammons said layoffs began last week. Another round Monday brought the total number of layoffs to 103. That’s out of the space center’s 280 employees.

The rest have been furloughed.

Ammons said the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is self-supporting and doesn’t receive funds from the state or federal government.

This would normally be peak season for the museum and Space Camp attendance, but they have been closed since March.

Ammons said 1,000 kids a week attend Space Camp. And during the spring, 800 to 2,000 people visit per day. She said they can’t maintain numbers like that with social distancing.

“We have made zero income to sustain full operation and we’ve had to make tough decisions," she said.

Ammons said they fall through the cracks on Paycheck Protection Program loan options under the CARES Act

They hope to qualify for some aid in the future.

They hope to reopen the museum by next week, but they are still waiting on guidance from the state on how to do that safely.

Space Camp is scheduled to reopen June 28 with a reduced number of attendees and social distancing. This is subject to change due to the pandemic and safety guidelines.

Ammons said the U.S. Space & Rocket Center had its strongest year in 2019 with more than 1 million visitors.

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