Recently in Shutdown Category

NASA Town Hall On Tuesday

Town Hall with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

"Headquarters is hosting an agencywide town hall with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 1 - 2 p.m. EST. Please join this important discussion as we return to work and begin the process of an orderly restart that ensures employee safety and security. All employees, contractors and civil servants, are encouraged to participate in person at Headquarters in the Webb auditorium and remotely at the designated viewing location at their center. The event will air live on NASA Television (public channel), through your center cable or streaming distribution, and on the agency's website at You may submit questions securely from any computer or mobile device starting now and throughout the presentation."

Welcome Back To Work, NASA

NASA Administrator Message: Thank You! Let's Get Safely Back to the Business of Exploration

"We understand the worry and confusion coming back to work may cause and we're going to do our best to keep you informed as agency systems are brought back online and you're asked to pick up where you left off more than a month ago. As you probably know, the President signed S.24, the "Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019," into law. The bill guarantees that federal civil servant workers will receive wages withheld during this shutdown, and future shutdowns. I understand our contractors are facing different challenges regarding pay and benefits and our procurement team will be working these issues in the days moving forward to try to do as much as we legally can to assist everyone affected."

NASA Is Open Again

Furloughs Hit LPI

Keith's note: And while NASA employees at MCC are doing someone else's job in addition to their own, the custodial staff is sitting at home and will never be paid.

Keith's note: If you go to NASA NSPIRES (NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System) website you will see the following notice:

"The NSPIRES Help Desk is not available due to a power outage in the building. Expect responses to your email inquiries within 24 hours. The phone service is not available. If the partial federal shutdown extends past January 31, then NSPIRES will be unavailable due to a lack of funding."

SMD AA Thomas Zurbuchen issued a series of tweets today via @Dr_ThomasZ: "NASA recognizes that researchers plan research, budgets & hiring 6 - 12 months in advance due to proposal evaluation & selection timelines. Unfortunately, during the shutdown, Notices of Intent (NOIs) and proposal due dates have to be postponed to undetermined future dates. The postponements related to the partial government shutdown have introduced uncertainty into this planning and may lead to some adjustments. A blanket amendment to Research Opportunities in Space and Earth (ROSES) 2018 will be issued, noting that:

1) All due dates should be assumed to be "TBD" as long as the government continues to be shut down.
2) New dates will be announced as soon as possible once the government reopens
3) The ROSES 2019 initially planned on Feb. 14 will be delayed significantly
4) There will be no ROSES-18 or ROSES-19 proposal due dates earlier than 60 days following the end of the partial government shutdown."

Keith's update: Emily Lakdawalla has posted a multi-tweet apology/clarification which includes a screengrab of her original tweet. "Since I clearly didn't communicate well with a previous tweet, I'm going to try again, but am including a screen cap of the deleted tweet here so people understand what I meant. It's my job to be a communicator and I failed here."

Keith's note: With one exception in the Jim Bridenstine memo - in one sentence - these memos deal only with the impact of the shutdown on NASA civil servants - not on contractor employees. Contractor employees are not being paid either and may never be paid.

NASA Internal Employee Memo: An Update to the Furlough

"While many of you may not immediately see this message, I wanted to send a note of thanks to the entire NASA family. Your dedication is an inspiration to everyone caught up in this furlough and your ongoing work is vital to the safety and success of NASA. During a lapse in funding by the federal government there are many routines and procedures that must be followed. Many of these happen behind the scenes. However, one of those procedures will be visible as a second round of furlough notices will be distributed. After the first 30 days during a lapse of funding, agencies are required to deliver another furlough notice. You do not need to take any additional action.

I want you to know how much I appreciate your patience and commitment during this unique time in American history. I understand this furlough is a real hardship for many of you and while civil servants will eventually receive back pay, the situation is not as clear for many of our family members in the contracting community. We are working with procurement and contracting officers to mitigate the impacts for you as we all look forward to the ultimate resolution of this lapse in appropriations."

Message to the Workforce from Bob Gibbs, Chief Human Capital Officer/Assistant Administrator, Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer - Important Information Related to the Government Shutdown - January 22, 2019

"e. I'm hearing a rumor that Reduction in Force (RIF) regulations and rules apply since the furlough is lasting longer than 30 calendar days, is this true? No, per the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Reduction in Force (RIF) regulations and SES competitive furlough requirements are not applicable to emergency shutdown furloughs because the ultimate duration of an emergency shutdown furlough is unknown at the outset and is dependent entirely on Congressional action, rather than agency action.

2. Back Pay. The President signed S.24 the "Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019," into law. The bill guarantees that Federal civil servant workers at departments/agencies affected by any lapse in appropriations that begins on or after December 22, 2018, will receive wages withheld during the shutdown. Even with the passage of the bill, salaries for any employees cannot not be paid until after a Continuing Resolution (CR) or FY 2019 appropriations legislation is signed and we are back to work. After we return to work, we will work quickly to retroactively pay employees. Additional guidance and information on retroactive timekeeping will be provided after normal operations resume."

NASA Ames Internal Memo: Second Notice of Decision - Furlough (Non-Excepted)

"For NASA, almost all "excepted employees" are those involved in protection of life or property. Because your services are not needed to conduct one of the excepted activities, your position is designated as non-excepted and you are being placed in a furlough status, effective January 23, 2019."

NASA's annual Day of Remembrance Postponed

"NASA's annual Day of Remembrance reminds us to reflect on not just the sacrifices that have been made by our fallen family, friends, and co-workers, but also to remind us of our core values of safety, integrity, and teamwork as we carry out our history-making missions. Unfortunately, most of our NASA family are on furlough and we recognize your participation in many of the Day of Remembrance activities would be a challenge. As a result, we have decided to delay our observance until we are all able to come together as a family to remember our fallen astronauts and those who have given their life in pursuit of exploration. An updated time for our commemoration has not yet been selected, but we will make this a priority once the furlough is over and everyone is back to work."

NASA GRC Shutdown Event

"The Great Lakes Science Center is hosting an event on Thursday, January 24, from 10 a.m. to noon for the GRC Civil Service and Support Service Contractor Workforce impacted by the partial government shutdown. This is an opportunity to receive community resource information as well as to interact and connect with GRC colleagues. We understand GLSC will be inviting representatives and/or will have information available from local financial institutions, community organizations, the employee assistance program and the Ohio Unemployment Office. In addition, people will be on hand to answer questions about NASA HR related issues, government employee benefits, outside employment rules, and other available resources. The science center will provide free parking to attendees and as always; NASA Glenn employees and contractors, as well as their immediate family, will receive free admission to the Science Center. Attendance is entirely voluntary."

NASA Shutdown Update

Furloughed NASA Custodians In Florida Paid During Partial Government Shutdown, Brevard Times

"Most of the 95 custodians who clean the facilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida have not worked at their job in almost a month. But according to their government contractor, none of the workers have missed a paycheck. "It's the right thing to do," said Rosalind Weiss, community relations manager for Brevard Achievement Center, or BAC. "And we can do it because we are fiscally sound." Weiss says the BAC, a non-profit government contractor employing mostly disabled people, is dipping into its reserves to keep paying its custodial workers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center."

Shutdown stalemate spurs fears of exodus from NASA Ames, Mountain View Voice

"A lot of our talented folks, they've already found other jobs because they can't afford the loss of these paychecks," she said. "At this point, it's hard for us to justify what we consider meaningful work for the American taxpayer." The experience was all too familiar for Matt Linton, a computer security engineer who left NASA in 2013 during a similar government shutdown that lasted about two weeks. At the time, "a major tech employer" in Mountain View called him up to offer a job with an 85 percent pay increase. Their pitch was simple: Sure, you love working at NASA, but we can actually pay you. With a mortgage on a Sunnyvale house and a newborn child, Linton said he couldn't find a way to say no."

Unpaid NASA workers protect critical missions during government shutdown, CBS

"But at some point, if the government remains in partial shutdown and NASA continues to be unable to pay its mounting bills, projects on the ground, at least, could face slowdowns or work stoppages. Insiders say the agency is probably on solid ground through the end of the month, but if the shutdown extends very far into February, serious consequences, in terms of delays and higher costs, may be unavoidable."

JPL May Have to "Adjust Staffing Levels" if Government Shutdown Continues Into February, Pasadena Now

"Caltech President Thomas Rosenbaum on Tuesday issued a message for the Caltech community saying the institute's operations continue despite the shutdown, but added "future negative consequences" could be possible - especially with regards to JPL. "The most significant impact is on JPL," Rosenbaum said. "Prior to the shutdown, laboratory management worked with NASA to maximize the available funding for JPL's tasks. To date, JPL has been able to avoid furloughs, but may have to adjust staffing levels if the shutdown continues into February."

Doug Jones Risks His Alabama Senate Seat Over the Shutdown and the Wall, NY Times

"In Huntsville, the effect of empty offices at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center on the Army's Redstone Arsenal base has rippled through the contractors, restaurants and hotels that power Rocket City. "For us, because we're a small town, the shutdown is kind of difficult. But there's also things in politics that may be worth doing," said Angie Gates, whose small family restaurant has lost patrons. "If Doug Jones doesn't support the wall, I don't support him."

Furloughed NASA employee's dream job turning into a nightmare from government shutdown, ABC 5

"A dream job quickly turning into a nightmare for one furloughed NASA Glenn Research Center employee. "They have that big sign that says research and development for the benefit of all. And my first day driving in there really made me feel like this is it, this is home," The worker said. "That job security is what drew me to it" But now he's sitting at home waiting for the shutdown to end to get back to work. "I really don't have a ton of savings built up, I just have a month or two set aside so if this lasts another week or two I'm going to be in deep water." The worker said. "I'm going to have to be talking to my landlord, talking to my creditors and telling them this is where I'm at and pretty much being at their mercy."

Shutdown imperils NASA's decadelong ice-measuring campaign, Science

"The spreading effects of the partial U.S. government shutdown have reached Earth's melting poles. IceBridge, a decadelong NASA aerial campaign meant to secure a seamless record of ice loss, has had to sacrifice at least half of what was supposed to be its final spring deployment, its scientists say. The shortened mission threatens a crucial plan to collect overlapping data with a new ice-monitoring satellite called the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)-2. The nearly monthlong spending impasse between Congress and President Donald Trump, "throws a giant wrench into that long-developed plan," says John Sonntag, an IceBridge mission scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland."

NASA postdocs hit by shutdown get emergency lifeline, Nature

"Many of the NASA fellows are foreign citizens on J-1 visas, who would have to leave the United States within 30 days if they lost their jobs. "Our understanding is that the approach we're taking means that the J-1s can continue uninterrupted," says White. That doesn't reduce the anxiety of one fellow on a J-1 visa, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid any potential retaliation. "This is a big point of concern for many of the postdocs," the person says. "With this kind of visa we cannot look for another job. That's really, really scary."

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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