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Shutdown Update

NIA hosting Community Support Open House Thursday 1-3pm

"The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) will host a Community Support Open House for People Impacted by the Government Shutdown from 1-3pm this Thursday, January 17 at the NIA, 100 Explorations Way in Hampton."

Message From the NASA Ames Center Director

"Ames civil servants and contractors are invited to an informal "drop-in" event at the Tee Minus One Bar & Grill at the Moffett Field Golf Course on Thursday, January 17, from 10am to 1pm. Please feel free to come by at any time during this period to get some information or just connect with your colleagues."

Message from Bob Gibbs to the NASA Workforce - Important Information Related to the Government Shutdown, NASA

"I am reaching out on behalf of NASA's leadership to provide you with an update on the government shutdown and provide information and resources during this difficult time. While some of this information may be repetitive, we wanted to take this opportunity to both provide you with the updated information we currently have as well as highlight important issues. First, I understand that this is a difficult time for everyone. So, I would like to thank you all for your commitment and patience as the lapse in funding continues. As a reminder, important information is being added to NASA's shutdown public website on a regular basis so please remember to visit often."

Temporary Opportunities For People Affected During Shutdown (TOPAS), LinkedIn

NASA employess have created a LinkedIn Group to share Government Shutdown information: "The group offers people affected by shutdown chance to look for temporary opportunity. Businesses can find talented workforce to solve problems on temporary basis without long-term commitment."

Funding furloughed NASA postdocs, GoFundMe

"This is an emergency for these folks, both financially and professionally. A lack of funding for them will push them to find other jobs, and could lead to a significant brain drain for the United States space sciences community. So we are starting a GoFundMe campaign to allow them to continue their research during the government shutdown."

Shutdowns and Dream Jobs

Experts worry government shutdowns will drive NASA employees to the private sector, Houston Chronicle

"But Keith Cowing, editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news, suspects the duration and frequency of the shutdowns soon will plant seeds of doubt in peoples' mind about working at the history-making space agency. "A lot of people take a salary cut to work at NASA," Cowing said. "But when you can't pay the bills and you have to do chores for your landlord for rent, there's nothing worse than having your dream job taken away from you because of this." A decision like that is a heartbreaking one, Cowing said, but it's one that the next shutdown could force people to make. "There's nothing worse than thinking, 'My god, I got to NASA and I can't afford to stay here,'" he said."

Shutdown makes it difficult for NASA to attract young talent, says tech labor leader, The Hill

"NASA has been a very attractive place for people to go to work," Shearon, the president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising." "If you're a young person coming out of college today, and you've got maybe an advanced degree in engineering or science, and you take a look and you say wait a second, how could it possibly be that NASA scientists are not working, and they're at home not getting paid? That's not what I went to school for," he continued. "My love of science is far greater than my love for my employer."

Washington, DC Area Applies to: Monday, January 14, 2019

"STATUS: OFFICE CLOSURE FEDERAL OFFICES in the Washington, DC area are CLOSED. Emergency employees and telework employees continue to work."

Greenbelt Campus: Center Operating Status - Code Red

"Goddard's Greenbelt campus is currently operating under a Code Red status through Monday, Jan. 14. The campus is closed and only critical and emergency personnel will be permitted access. Only those who report to campus during normal Code Red activities should access the facility. For furloughed employees, your status remains unchanged. All employees who enter Goddard's Greenbelt campus during a Code Red operating status are required to sign in at the main gate."

Keith's note: The GSFC status was sent out at Sunday January 13th, 2019: 09:05 p.m. EST to GSFC employees well after OPM closed government offices in the DC area due to snow.

Federal Workers At Nasa Eligible For Emergency Loans During Shutdown, San Francisco Chronicle

"A union for federal workers at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View is offering emergency loans to assist employees who have not been paid during the partial government shutdown. The Ames Federal Employees Union is giving members $100 and has arranged for up to $2,500 in loans through the Menlo Survey Federal Credit Union."

NASA workers, nearby business owners get support during government shutdown, khou

"Friday was the first time since the government shutdown last month that thousands of furloughed federal workers didn't get paid. NASA civil servants are among them. An "Employee Furlough Support Open House" was held in the Clear Creek area on Friday. KHOU 11 spoke with several engineers who said they never expected the shutdown to last this long."

NASA contractors struggle without pay during government shutdown -- and may never see the money, Orlando Sentinel

"Nearly 60 people had turned out for the meeting of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061 in Cape Canaveral seeking answers about how to endure the stalemate between President Donald Trump and Congress over a border wall with Mexico."

Keith's note: Below is an internal memo sent to employees of ZIN Technologies, a contractor at NASA GRC. Rumor has it that there will be a complete closure at ZIN in mid-February if the government shutdown persists.

"This memo is to advise all ZIN personnel of the fact that due to the Government shutdown of NASA, ZIN is currently not being paid for work you are performing. As a result, we must address our cash flow and take the following temporary actions. These actions are effective beginning Sunday January 13, 2019 and will first impact your paycheck dated February 5, 2019. Your paycheck for January 22, 2019 will not be effected."

Full memo below:

Keith's note: There was a protest rally in Washington today. NASA folks participated. One of the speakers was Barry Epstein, the new head of the union at NASA HQ. A tweet from a Washington Post reporter appeared quoting him: 'Barry, a NASA engineer, says the #GovernmentShutdown could impact astronauts on the International Space Station. He and others tasked with "ensuring their health and wellbeing" in space are furloughed.'

Two things. First, NASA civil servant and contractor employees are being punished for something that has nothing to do with them. Civil servants will eventually get paid but contractors could well get stuck with no pay. Either way this totally sucks and everyone involved should be angry as hell and protesting.

Second: Barry works at NASA HQ and sits behind a desk. He is not one of the engineers tasked with keeping the crew on ISS safe. If something breaks he does not get a phone call. The people tasked with this responsibility are considered "essential" and are sitting behind consoles in Houston. Moreover, the suggestion that NASA is running the ISS in a fashion that puts the crew at risk is simply incorrect. To stand in front of a microphone in public and try and suggest the contrary is irresponsible. Arm waving and shouting misinformation helps no one right now, Barry. Stick to the facts.

Keith's update: Someone who was at the rally says that there is a misquote and that Barry Epstein didn't make that claim - instead he was highlighting how NASA ISS support teams are working without pay, and without them the ISS crew would be in danger.

It is my understanding based on actual employment at NASA that if the ISS was not being maintained per NASA safety and mission requirements that the crew would be brought home. I have not heard of any indication that this is even being considered right now. As such, if we are to believe NASA's rules and regulations, that means that the crew is safe and not in danger of becoming unsafe.

AFL-CIO head pushes back against Trump's claims, MSNBC

Go to 7:50 into the segment: "There's a guy named Steve [last name] he's a technician at the NASA Space Center. He monitors the power grid. He's out - he has two co-workers that have special needs kids and he's trying to help them. But in the mean time two technicians are doing the work of what ten used to do. And so the missions - the center's missions - and even the International Space Station - is at risk now because they are working short-handed and having higher stress on the job - two people trying to do what ten did."

Keith's note: If the ISS is not being maintained per NASA safety and mission requirements the crew will be brought home. Simple. There is no indication that this is even being considered right now. As such, the crew is safe and not in danger of becoming unsafe. Until/unless that situation changes it is simply inaccurate to raise this as a risk. However it is totally accurate to mention workload levels, stress, hardship, and the overall terrible situation that confronts the larger NASA family right now. If those things combine to put the ISS at risk, then its time to raise that issue - and to hear that coming directly from Jim Bridenstine himself.

Keith's note: The original comment due date for NASA DRAFT 2019 Announcement of Opportunity for Planetary Science Division Discovery Program was January 16, 2019. Due to the government shutdown that date will be extended - but the new due date is currently TBD. Stay tuned.

- NASA DRAFT 2019 Announcement of Opportunity for Planetary Science Division Discovery Program
- AO text

Keith's note: Attention NASA employees: if you have any questions about the furlough go to and click the furlough link.

How the Partial Government Shutdown Is Hampering Climate Efforts, EE News via Scientific American

"The inevitable result [of a shutdown] is that everything costs more and you do less," said Keith Cowing, editor of the space publication NASA Watch. Most of NASA's workforce has been furloughed, with the exception of top officials and those who work on critical missions such as the continued operation of the International Space Station. That puts NASA's climate scientists in a strange position, Cowing said. Their instruments and satellites still will collect data, but few if any researchers will be around to analyze the information. "What's affecting them is affecting every mission at NASA," he said. "There's nobody there. The lights are not on."

Trump threatens years-long shutdown for his wall as GOP support begins to fracture, Washington Post

"President Trump warned Friday that the partial government shutdown could go on for months or even years, delivering no real breakthrough with congressional leaders as his own administration scrambled to shore up support among Republicans for a gambit that has started to fracture."

Houston, We Have a Problem -- It's Washington (Op-Ed), Paul Shearon, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers

"Houston, we have a problem." Remember back when NASA missions, such as Apollo 13, were scrubbed due to mechanical issues? Today, NASA's missions are being delayed and the space agency is being damaged for the long-term -- not by equipment failure, but by the failure of our elected leaders to reach a budget agreement. On Dec. 22, 95 percent of NASA's scientists, technical workers and other employees were furloughed -- for the third time in the past year."

Keith's note: How will NASA be able to accomplish the tasks it has to accomplish if this shutdown continues long-term as the President is threatening to do?

Keith's note: From "Me and my colleagues are out of work during this shutdown with no prospect for ever getting back our lost wages. The federal government has a hard time recruiting people in my field because of a large salary difference with private sector companies. We choose a career with federal agencies because we believe in the mission of protecting the United States. NASA is going to lose a lot a talent in cyber security as workers like myself seek more stable employment elsewhere."

Planning for a Government Shutdown, NASA

"During the Shutdown Furlough, you will be in a nonpay, nonduty status. During this time, you will not be permitted to serve NASA as an unpaid volunteer. You must remain away from your worksite, and may not work at home, in another location, or participate in events hosted by non-NASA entities in your official capacity like speeches or speakers bureau engagements, unless and until recalled."

Keith's 27 Dec note: It would seem that NASA Administrator Bridenstine and NASA SMD AA Zurbuchen are prohibited from attending or even talking about anything having to do with the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule.

Keith's 28 Dec update: I'm now told by NASA that Jim Bridenstine and Thomas Zurbuchen are considered "essential employees" during #governmentshutdown - which is not all that unexpected ;-)

NASA Operating Status

"NASA is currently CLOSED due to a lapse in Government funding Orderly Shutdown Will Begin December 26, 2018"

NASA, other federal workers not as supportive of government shutdown as Trump claims, union rep says, Houston Chronicle

"Trump has argued that federal workers support the shutdown, saying Tuesday, "Many of those workers have said to me and communicated, 'stay out until you get the funding for the wall.' These federal workers want the wall, " according to an ABC News story published on Christmas Day. In its statement, the union said Trump needs to stop "gambling with the lives of federal workers." "If the president wants to gamble, perhaps he should go back to running casinos," the statement said."

Government shutdown grounds NASA testing, Sandusky Register

"Most recently, a simulated spacecraft resembling Orion's actual article underwent and aced noise-related tests. Engineers collected data to input into Orion's actual article, ensuring, upon a scheduled 2021 launch, the spacecraft can withstand extreme vibration it'll likely encounter in space. Depending on the shutdown's length, a federal holdup could push back several crucial Orion-related experiments scheduled for 2019 at Plum Brook. Before then, Plum Brook's staff has prepared for these tests, analyzing data gathered from past trial runs. Though the stoppage means these workers and others contracted to work with NASA at Plum Brook on other projects must stand idle and wait for who knows how long."

Keith's 9:30 am ET note: Apparently the NASA Deep Space Network Now website only operates with human intervention - NASA civil servant intervention, to be specific. If you visit the site now it is online but it does not show any activity on the DSN. There is a clock in the upper former that shows that it is updating. Obviously the DSN is still talking to spacecraft such as New Horizons during the government shutdown. But the software that talks to the DSN and makes the squiggly lines appear over the antenna icons can only operate while a civil servant is doing something. But wait: the DSN itself and the DSN Now website are run by JPL which is part of Caltech - not NASA. Why has JPL shut down the data feed to the DSN now website? Are they trying to make a point or is the set up so fragile that lack of a civil servant makes it break? I'd ask JPL PAO but they do not respond to media inquiries these days. But someone will post a snarky explanation on Twitter, I'm certain. Larger image.

Keith's 12:22 pm update: It is working again - for now.

NASA's Shutdown Plan

NASA Shutdown Plan, 16 December 2018 (pdf)

"Pursuant to OMB Circular A-11, Section 124.2, NASA is hereby submitting a revised shutdown plan in the event of a lapse in appropriations, updating the plan submitted to OMB on September 25, 2015, In this plan, NASA continues to require each NASA Center to provide for protection of life and property. The Decision on what personnel should be excepted from furlough is very fact-specific , and DIrectors in charge of NASA Centers are in the best position to make detailed decisions regarding the suspension of ongoing, regular functions which could imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property."

"NASA's plan recognizes that the excepted activities include the following:

- Space launch hardware processing activities, which are necessary to prevent harm to life or property.
- Tracking, operation, and support of the ISS and operating satellites necessary for safety and protection of property.
- Completion or phase-down of research activities in cases where serious damage to property would result from temporary suspension of the activity."



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