Government shutdown has immediate effects on Johnson Space Center
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- NASA is celebrating its 55th birthday by shutting down operations and furloughing 3,200 employees for several days as government shuts down.
Thousands of workers at JSC have been asked to stay home furloughed because of the government shutdown.
The shutdown will not affect mission control. But according to NASA, 97 percent of its employees, that's more than 18,000 people, will be furloughed at JSC. Out of 3,200 civil employees, only a few hundred will be allowed to stay on and work as they are deemed critical in helping to run the $100 billion space station with six crew members on it.
The government shutdown is having a huge impact on NASA and a lot of people in the community surrounding JSC are talking about it.
"You feel kinda guilty. You feel like you're one of the special ones," said NASA employee Mike Trenchard.
Trenchard works in crew earth observations, supporting the astronauts right now in space. He says this furlough seems different than the last.
"They'll have to work something out but it seems like they are maximizing the pain for us right now," he said.
As you walk the Johnson Space Center, you find today that even astronaut parking spots are empty. Most everybody is now on furlough.
"I think we were all kind of really shocked first of all," NASA contractor Erika Lamberth said.
She is a contractor was sent home Tuesday, like many, against their will.
"I really don't know what the future holds. I have no idea," she said.
Lamberth is the breadwinner in her family. She, like many, says they don't have a lot of wiggle room in their budgets. Her husband operates a non-profit disaster management company. They say he might have to find another job if she can't work soon.
"Does it make me nervous? Absolutely. Do I feel a little angry? Absolutely. But we have to channel that and overcome," her husband, Tony Lamberth, said.
Lamberth says her company has allowed her to use a couple days of vacation time from next year to off set the time lost right now. But she's not sure what happens next if the furlough drags on.
"Hey what about us little guys? What does that mean for us that go to work every ay and have families and have bills to pay and things like that? What does that mean?" she said. The NASA program that keeps an eye on asteroids will close its offices. That means there will be no warnings about potentially hazardous objects that could approach earth. Many astronomers and observatories worldwide will still be watching the sky however.
"It's much to do about nothing. In fact, Congress has been shut down for many, many days in the past and I think we're all going to be just fine," said nearby restaurant customer John Gay.
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