The government shutdown continues, and most of NASA’s employees have been on furlough. Although the critical operations are still being staffed by NASA full time employees and contract workers, many other operations have been put on hold.
We recently talked about the next mission to Mars, entitled the MAVEN, which could be seriously delayed depending on how long the government shutdown lasts. The window for this mission to launch is between November 18th and December 7th, as that is when Mars will be aligned with Earth. If this window is missed, the mission would need to be delayed until 2016. This mission is already slated to cost $650 million dollars, and delays almost always mean higher costs.
While the politicians are hashing things out on Capitol Hill, the MAVEN was sitting in the cleanroom inside Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. NASA cleanroom operators were standing by waiting to get back to work to get the MAVEN prepped and ready for launch.
Good news came through, as the MAVEN was deemed exempt from the government shutdown by being granted an emergency exception. Part of the reason behind this is that the MAVEN will be used as a means to ensure communications with the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers.
Since NASA has already invested so much in the other Mars missions and the MAVEN, it is great to hear that this exemption has been made. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted when we get closer to the launch date.