The sun sets behind the space shuttle Atlantis on  at Kennedy Space Center in Fla.
The sun sets behind the space shuttle Atlantis on at Kennedy Space Center in Fla. - 
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BILL RADKE: Space shuttle Atlantis is set to launch today at Cape Canaveral. The mission is to boldly go work on the Hubble Telescope. President Obama's hand-picked NASA Administrator will not be on hand for the launch, because President Obama has yet to name a permanent NASA Administrator. As Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson tells us, that is sending uncertainty through the space industry.

JEREMY HOBSON: Someone has to decide soon what to do about the space shuttle. NASA's been using the shuttle since 1981, and it's retiring it next year. But its replacement isn't ready yet. That could mean layoffs in Republican Congressman Bill Posey's Florida district.

BILL POSEY: The initial forecast is about 3,500 jobs.

And Posey knows what it's like to be one of those people. He was laid off from NASA after working on Apollo in the late 60s. He says if the U.S. wants to remain a high tech leader, it needs a well-led space program.

POSEY: From the cell phones with the genesis in space to the laptops to the GPS to the weather satellites, the president has said he wants half our GDP to be based on high tech, and there's no more high tech, there's no more cutting edge than there is in space.

The space industry may not get clarity anytime soon. The president's science adviser has just asked for an independent review of NASA's operations. The report is due in August.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson