97 percent of NASA workers told to stay home for government shutdown

Employees critical to continued operations remain on job

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, is one of the government shutdown's hardest hit agencies, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Ninety-seven percent of workers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Johnson Space Center were told to stay home on Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean the two astronauts aboard the International Space Station won't be able to phone home. Workers who are critical to continued operations are still on the clock, according to an impact report submitted to the Office of Management and Budget on Monday.

"To protect the life of the crew, as well as the assets themselves, we would continue to support planned operations of the ISS during any funding hiatus," the NASA plan states. "Moreover, NASA will be closely monitoring the impact of an extended shutdown to determine if crew transportation or cargo resupply services are required to mitigate imminent threats to life and property on the ISS or other areas."

At the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, the visitor's center is still open for business as it's run by a separate company.

"We're fully open today at the main campus with plenty of things to see and do," said the visitors center spokeswoman Andrea Farmer.

But the tour buses that bring tourists onto the space center property are parked and off-limits because, virtually, no one is working at the Kennedy Space Center.

"Because the Kennedy Space Center is closed, due to the government shutdown, we're not able to take our tours onto the space center," Farmer said. "It's been temporarily suspended."

Instead of the bus tours, visitors to the complex are being treated to added IMAX films of the International Space Station and the Hubble space telescope. Also added were tours of the rocket garden and more meet-and-greets from astronauts.

"This has happened before," Farmer said. "We're just hoping this is quickly resolved and we can get back to having tours go to the main Kennedy Space Center."

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