One of the effects of the US shutdown will be felt by NASA because a section of its workers will have to forego payment for the duration of the shutdown. However, it is not expected to affect important activities pertaining to NASA and SpaceX because the axe would fall on non-essential staff.

The Verge reports that latest guidelines on the subject were released in 2017. As per these guidelines, nonessential employees should stay home during a shutdown. There will be an exception for a small contingent of staff who will have to be present to ensure that work does not suffer on important or hazardous programs.

In the case of NASA, they would include those associated with upcoming launches, operating satellites and the International Space Station.

Spacewalks will continue

The US shutdown will not derail the plans of NASA of conducting a couple of spacewalks by astronauts on the International Space Station. Kenny Todd, NASA’s ISS mission operations integration manager, has confirmed that all essential activities related to the missions will go ahead as usual. Critical personnel will be available to extend necessary support for the day to day operations. The objective would be to assure the crew that they will be in safe hands and would continue to get full support.

SpaceX has plans to launch a communications satellite on January 30th.

Another mission of NASA is the launch of its exoplanet-hunting satellite, TESS, planned in association with SpaceX. Its Falcon 9 rocket would be used to lunch the satellite from Florida in March. These two programs are not likely to feel the pinch of the shutdown.

Reasons for the shutdown

Sky News adds that the inability of politicians to agree on the new budget has forced the US shutdown.

It seems the government failed to get the number of votes necessary to pass a spending bill to fund the government until 16 February. In the absence of adequate funds, many federal workers will have to go on unpaid leave.

Republicans have blamed the Democrats, and the controversy is over the issue of "dreamer" immigrants. They had arrived in the United States as children and are now living in the country illegally.

The stand of the White House is that it will not negotiate on this issue until the end of the shutdown.

The impact would not be felt in certain essential areas but, NASA will have to brave the storm. It must draw up contingency plans for the International Space Station apart from its future activities with SpaceX that are on the anvil.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that the country is facing a shutdown. The previous one was in 2013 and it lasted for 16 days.