NASA's main space contractor is laying off 15 percent of its shuttle-related workers, as reductions in the space program bite.

United Space Alliance, which handles the day-to-day management of the U.S. space shuttle fleet, will lay off workers in Florida, Alabama and Texas, effective October 1, the company said in a statement. The bulk of the cuts will be concentrated in Florida.

Only two missions remain in the shuttle program, The Associated Press reported.

"Our workforce has known for several years that the Space Shuttle Program has been scheduled to end," CEO Virginia Barnes said. "But layoffs are always difficult for everyone involved."

The workers will receive severance payment and retraining, the statement said.

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