happy shutdown week
The government will shut down at the end of this week if Congress isn’t able to pass a short-term spending bill or a broader appropriations package. That’s bad news for NASA, since about 90 percent of its workforce would be furloughed, according to the agency’s plan for a shutdown last year.
“NASA still is evaluating how it would be affected by a lapse of government funding after Dec. 21,” NASA spokesperson Megan Powers said in a statement. “In previous shutdowns, we have maintained personnel to support the International Space Station and its crew, and currently operating space missions, such as satellites, landers, rovers, to ensure they’re safe and secure.”
NASA has not released an updated shutdown plan, but the 2017 version called for closing all NASA visitor centers and discontinuing access to NASA TV, along with other public-facing activities. Contractors may continue working on projects that are already funded, as long as they don’t need NASA personnel or facilities.
A short shutdown over the holidays would likely have little impact. But if the shutdown stretches into 2019 it could delay some major programs, such as the first test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule planned for mid-January, predicted Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A quick reminder that Congress has already funded the Defense Department for fiscal 2019, so any space missions or acquisition programs at the Pentagon won’t be affected by a shutdown.