Of all of the agencies that have been hit hard by the federal shutdown, NASA has the dubious distinction of being the most affected by it, with some 97 percent of their employees furloughed. NASA is no stranger to having to fight for their budgets, despite its extensive history of providing technologies that make everyone’s lives a little easier. They also tend to make our lives a little cooler, such as through their sharing of space photos with “The Astronomy Picture of the Day” which is not online currently, since all of NASA’s sites were shut down (although someone is still sharing pictures via their Facebook page).
Hardest hit, perhaps, are interns living at the NASA Ames Exchange Lodge in Mountain View, Calif. Not only did the shutdown impact their jobs, but it turns out that their campus housing is also a federally-run facility, and with the staff furloughed the residence had to be closed. Many interns are seeking temporary housing with co-workers or simply people close by the remote campus. However others are forced to head back to their home states. When the dorms reopen, some wonder about “longer-term ramifications on morale.”
Two NASA employees who may not be technically furloughed, but seemingly don’t have much to do are Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins who are currently two of six people aboard the International Space Station. A report from NPR speculates that they are “bored” because, even though NASA’s Twitter feeds are offline, the two astronauts have been tweeting and there is a “killing time” quality about them. About six NASA staffers are working on the ground, keeping in touch.
The NASA Mars Maven mission was originally stalled, but will go forward because the window in which to launch the Mars probe closes for two years after December.