Shut it NASA: Problems after government shutdown

Coincidentally, the day the government shut down on Oct. 1st, NASA celebrated its 55th birthday. They were hit the hardest during this shutdown leaving only two people in their facilities to maintain communication with the astronauts 250 miles above the Earth’s surface on the International Space Station.

The astronauts, Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins, are keeping busy with Twitter. To keep busy while the government is inactive, the astronauts are taking photos of the Earth. While it’s still unclear if they are receiving pay, almost all NASA operations have ceased. That means no more research for awesome products like Tang and Tempur-Pedic beds. NASA Television is shut down and even their website is offline. Fewer than 600 of NASA’s 18,000 employees (roughly 97 percent) are able to work while the shutdown continues.

An empty control room. Graphic by Katie Sickman.
Everything is left behind in this empty control room. Graphic by Katie Sickman.

In light of the shutdown, all projects have halted. Maven, the Mars probe, has been delayed, as well as Orion. However, on Oct. 3, Maven has been given an exceptional order to proceed with the expected liftoff planned in Nov.

“We will continue to work over the next couple of days to identify any changes in our schedule or plans that are necessary to stay on track,” said Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado, Boulder. “We have already restarted spacecraft processing at Kennedy Space Center, working toward being ready to launch.”

According to KHOU, a television station in Huston, one International Space Station scientist is now running an online grocery store business to make enough money to support herself and her family. She runs the Grocery Station out of Clear Lake City, TX where customers submit an online list of grocery items and they are picked up for a fee.

While it’s unclear when NASA will be fully functional again, it appears that projects will be delayed and people will be out of work for the time being. It’s sad that the government would cut the most from the program that beat the Russians in space exploration a few decades ago.