October 6, 2013
Government Shutdown Sends Home 97% Of NASA Employees

The government shutdown could cause major delays for some of NASA's goals in the near future.

97 percent of NASA employees were sent home on Tuesday, October 1 after the shutdown went into full effect. The only remaining employees are those people who are supporting astronauts who are currently aboard the International Space Station, and workers who need to continually monitor already in progress missions. However, veteran astronaut Tom Jones tells Space.com that some important science and spaceflight missions that need funding and attention could soon be harmed.

"It's not going to endanger operations on the space station, but if it continues for more than a couple of weeks then you're going to have a significant amount of lost time, productivity and planning for the next stage of space station research, for example," says Jones.

At this time less than 600 of NASA's 18,000 employees are currently on the job. Most of those employees are simply safeguarding spacecraft that is already in rotation.

According to Jones: "We have all of these vehicles in development like Orion and the Space Launch System [rocket], so that's going to cost taxpayers big bucks to lose the momentum [and] to pick up the pieces from a stalled program where decisions should be being made every day."

Some of NASA's facilities are still open, for example the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California is run by the California Institute of Technology. However, if the government shutdown runs too long that facility could also be forced to close down for the short-term.

NASA run websites are also down, attempt to visit Nasa.Gov and the following message is displayed:

"Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. We sincerely regret this inconvenience. For information about available government services, visit USA.gov."

NASA is also refusing to update social media accounts during the government shutdown.

In the meantime NASA's November 18 launch of the Maven probe was saved when NASA was granted an emergency exception.

The Maven mission is worth $650 million and any delays would have cost taxpayers more money.