Published: Jul 28, 2010 8:49 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 28, 2010 5:49 PM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - The private contractor that handles the bulk of the work servicing NASA's space shuttle fleet is notifying 1,400 employees in Florida, Texas and Alabama that they will be laid off in the fall.

United Space Alliance this week began telling workers, including 900 employees at the Kennedy Space Center, that they are expected to be let go by Oct. 1 as part of planned reductions from the end of the space shuttle program.

Laid off workers will receive between four and 26 weeks of pay, depending on their years of service.

The shuttle program now employs about 8,700 contractors, down from 12,000 employees in October 2008. It also employs another 1,200 civil servants, who are expected to be assigned to new programs after the shuttle.

The last shuttle flight is expected next year.