Holly Petrucci: Unfortunately.
Lou Hanna, and Joe Urich, Holly Petrucci, and Mike Carpenter planned to transfer from shuttle to Constellation. They were encouraged when candidate Barack Obama came to Brevard County in 2008, three months before the election.
[Barack Obama, Titusville Speech, 8/2/08: I'm gonna ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service by making sure that all those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the shuttle is retired because we can't afford to lose their expertise.]
Mike Carpenter: Well, we were lied to when Obama came through, gave us a lotta hope and supposedly a lotta change. Well, I've got change in my pocket, but the hope is gone.
In 2010, President Obama cancelled Constellation and turned over development of a new spaceship to private enterprise. Then, Congress dealt another blow by cutting the funding for the Obama plan in half. At the very least it will be 5 years before America flies astronauts again. Now the workers with that expertise Mr. Obama referred to are setting course for Carole Bess.
Carole Bess: And I've had several who've told me, "I was considering suicide before I came to you."
Carole Bess is a bankruptcy attorney.
Scott Pelley: What drove them to that point?
Carole Bess: They felt like failures. You know, "Here I am. I can't pay my debts. And I'm probably worth more dead than alive, if I have life insurance."
Scott Pelley: And folks either aren't finding work. Or if they do, they're making a lot less than they were before.
Carole Bess: Correct. And that's not gonna change. These people have no hope. It could still get a lot worse, I think.
Following the Great Recession, we visited a lot of communities that lost their main employer, but never one like Brevard County. We learned about the sense of loss with our first question to Lucas Maxwell, who used to handle the dangerous fuel for the rockets.
Scott Pelley: What was it like when it was launched? Paint that picture for me.
Lucas Maxwell: Awesome. I--
The thought was too much for a moment. Then he came back to tell us why.
Lucas Maxwell: Made your heart stop. It's awesome no matter what, you know, the pride that goes into a vehicle like that. But I knew it was the end too. You know, I knew I was gonna be out on the street.
Scott Pelley: And space shuttle for you, I have the sense was a statement about the country.
Lou Hanna: Oh, yeah, absolutely. This is a matter of national pride.
The end of the shuttle is threatening businesses that families have built over decades. Like "Shuttles" the first bar you come to leaving the space center -- not just a bar really -- it's the place where astronauts land. In July, before the last launch, we stopped in to the see owner Bill Grillo.
Scott Pelley: How many employees did you have at the peak?
Bill Grillo: We had 25.
Scott Pelley: And now?
Bill Grillo: We're down to eight.