As the government shutdown continues, many wonder what will happen to various government programs. We’ve talked a little bit about how many NASA employees are being furloughed, but depending on how long the government shutdown lasts, the affects may be quite far reaching into our country’s space program.
One of the biggest marks of the shutdown may be on the next mission to Mars, entitled the MAVEN. This mission will focus on the thin Martian atmosphere and was scheduled to launch on November 18th from Cape Canaveral. In compliance with government shutdown, work on the MAVEN has been halted, and if the shutdown lasts too long the mission may need to be postponed until 2016 when Mars and Earth are in alignment again.
The MAVEN has a launch window that last until December 7th, and hopefully the shutdown will be resolved by then. In the meantime, the MAVEN waits patiently in one of NASA’s state- of- the- art cleanrooms at Kennedy Space Center. NASA employs about 18,000 people, and save for about 550, the rest are waiting for the government shutdown to end so they can get back to work.