Partial Government Shutdown Affects Kennedy Space Center Workforce
NASA space centers across the country including the Kennedy Space Center remain closed as a partial government shutdown rolls into a third week.
According to NASA’s shutdown plan, of the nearly two-thousand civil servants, only about 196 employees are exempt from the shutdown, and around 240 are on-call. Thousands of contractors for the agency have been asked to limit expenditures.
Critical missions, like monitoring the International Space Station, aren’t affected.
While some furloughed employees and contractors can work part-time or freelance outside the space industry, space policy analyst Laura Forcyk said that could have an impact on NASA's workforce.
“If it goes on much longer, they’re going to need to utilize their skill set in a full time position," she said. "You might see some NASA employees, or federal government employees, shifting over to the private section.”
Kennedy Space Center is preparing to host a demonstration flight of SpaceX’s Commercial Crew spacecraft this month. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that launch will slip into February, although it was unclear if the shutdown was to blame.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which is run by private funds, remains open and unaffected by the shutdown.
A representative from Kennedy Space Center or NASA headquarters could not be reached for comment.