GREENBELT – With the government shutdown over, life is returning to normal for employees at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“It’s a relief to see the people at Goddard back to work,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who joined NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday for his first visit to the center since the government reopened last week.
The pair sought an update on some of the center’s major projects, including the James Webb Space Telescope and the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, which is designed to help improve climate and weather forecast models.
NASA was among the agencies hardest hit by the government shutdown, with 97 percent of employees furloughed. Research teams were shuttered and equipment throughout Goddard was covered with sheets to protect against dust.
Of the approximately 20 projects currently in development at Goddard, all were affected by the shutdown, center director Christopher Scolese said.
The MAVEN spacecraft, which is being managed by Goddard employees, is still set to launch November 18 to study the atmosphere of Mars, despite the added time crunch imposed by the shutdown. Had the shutdown lasted longer, the MAVEN launch could have been delayed until 2016, according to Space.com.
More than anything, the government shutdown meant a wealth of missed opportunities for NASA, not just at Goddard but across the country as well.
Scheduled flights to observe Jupiter’s moon Europa were grounded and incoming data from a number of missions went uninterpreted.