"New Horizons" by NASA / Public Domain

Shutdown: What’s Open at NASA?

Dec 31, 2018

By Patrick Attwell

With no sign that it will be resolved soon, the ongoing partial U.S. government shutdown looks to continue well into the first days or weeks of 2019. As such, it is having wide-reaching effects on NASA’s operations.

The shutdown started at midnight EST (05:00 GMT) on Dec. 22, 2018, when a continuing resolution to fund a large portion of discretionary spending in the federal government lapsed. A new resolution was not agreed upon by the Senate, House of Representatives and the President because of disagreements over funding regarding a border wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Regardless of when the shutdown comes to a conclusion, there are certain “essential” activities across the government, including NASA, that will still go on, despite the lapse in funding.

For example, on New Year’s Day 2019, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly by Ultima Thule, a Kuiper Belt object and the most-distant object ever explored. Those involved with the mission will certainly be at their consoles waiting for signals and data to return.

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