Local space tech firm lays off 20% of workforce due to government shutdown

Breathtaking views of Earth from the International Space Station (File photo)

BOTHELL, Wash. - A locally based company that specializes in space technology has laid off 20 percent of its workforce due, in large part, to loss of income from the partial government shutdown.

The company, Bothell-based Tethers Unlimited Inc., has contracts with NASA and the Pentagon but can't get paid for work performed over the past three months, according to media reports.

In an email to the GeekWire news site, the company's CEO Rob Hoyt said government employees who are responsible for approving and processing invoices have been furloughed during the longest government shutdown in history, so Tethers Unlimited has not been paid for work performed on multiple contracts since September 2018.

"This has had a severe impact on our cash flow, forcing us to lay off 12 good engineers, about 20 per cent of our workforce," he added.

Hoyt expects commercial contracts to keep the company afloat during the shutdown, but the decision to cut back on staff was "really painful and disheartening."

The shutdown also has halted work on a rocket testing system being built by the Boeing Co. at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, according to media reports. But Boeing thinks it will be able to catch up on that work once the shutdown has ended.

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