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Frustration Among NASA, Kennedy Space Center Employees Grows As Government Shutdown Continues

NASA's SOFIA observatory at Daytona International Airport. Photo: Brendan Byrne
NASA's SOFIA observatory at Daytona International Airport. Photo: Brendan Byrne

About 95 percent of NASA employees have been unable to work due to the partial government shutdown. Laura Forczyk, space policy analyst and founder of the consulting firm Astralytical, and 90.7 Space Reporter Brendan Byrne join Intersection to discuss the shutdown’s local impact on Kennedy Space Center employees.

Because most of NASA’s work is considered non-essential, most of the agency’s projects are moving extremely slowly or have been paused altogether. Most of the 2,000 employees at the Kennedy Space Center are currently unable to work, while some contractors are continuing to work until the money runs out.

“The one thing that NASA will always say is that NASA is one of the highest rated federal agencies to work for. These people really enjoy what they do and they want to get to work, and the fact that they’re sidelined is extremely frustrating,” Byrne said.

Many NASA contractors missed out on their first paycheck of the year due to the shutdown.

Forczyk said she is seeing a sense of desperation from federal employees. 

“Some people are seeking part time jobs in order to make ends meet. Some people are considering leaving their federal employee jobs in order to be able to pay their bills and take care of what they need to take care of,” Forczyk said.

Government shutdowns could have a lasting impact on the aerospace workforce. Projects like the Space Launch System (SLS) and James Webb Space Telescope will continue to be delayed while NASA personnel and employees are furloughed.

“[The shutdown] is really making the private space industry and Florida space coast future kind of uncertain. We’ve had these shutdowns before and we’ve seen delays because of these shutdowns,” Byrne said. 

Dale Ketcham, vice president of Space Florida, told 90.7 that government shutdowns put Florida at a disadvantage, which could speed up plans to hire an outside agency not connected to the federal government take over running the facility on the Space Coast from NASA.