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Nelson: Shutdown Threatens NASA Mission to Mars

October 3, 2013 | WMFE - With the government shutdown in its third day and no end in sight, Sen. Bill Nelson says a NASA mission to Mars is in jeopardy. The MAVEN spacecraft is scheduled to launch Nov. 18 from Cape Canaveral.

The spacecraft's mission is to explore how Mars' loss of atmosphere affected its water.

But a two-week launch window ends Dec. 7. Nelson says if MAVEN doesn't take off by then, the next window isn't until 2016.

Nearly all of NASA is idle because of the shutdown. Ninety-seven percent of the agency's civilian workforce is on furlough, including more than 2,000 at Kennedy Space Center.

Nelson is chairman of a Senate subcommittee overseeing NASA. The Florida Democrat flew in space on the shuttle Columbia in 1986.


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