The government shutdown continues on affecting government employees across the country. Federal parks and government offices are closed while the U.S. tries to “figure things out.” One area the shutdown that is currently being overlooked is NASA. |
NASA employs about 18,000 people, and all but about 550 are currently on furlough. These 550 are dedicated to mission- critical items and missions that are currently under way. What might be the most at stake is the November launch of the MAVEN.
The MAVEN is a spacecraft designed to explore the atmosphere on Mars. It is scheduled to launch on November 18th, but there is still much work that needs to be done before then. Testing and other preparations are required before launch. Depending on how long this shutdown lasts could potentially delay the mission until 2016 when Mars back in close alignment with Earth.
As for the current missions like the Mars rover and other robotic missions, they are still working and are actually staffed via outside contractors. Although NASA won’t be updating its website during the government shutdown, essential tasks will still continue.
While those NASA employees working on the MAVEN are on furlough, the MAVEN will wait patiently in the cleanroom of the Kennedy Space Center. Once the government shutdown is over, NASA cleanroom workers will pick up where they left off and hopefully get all the testing completed before the launch date.
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