NASA Research Stalled By Government Shutdown

NASA Logo White Background
NASA's iconic emblem. (Image credit: NASA)

The government shutdown brought research at NASA facilities around the United States to a standstill when it went into effect on Oct. 1.

At the space agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., research at all stages of development has been put on hold while a skeleton crew of employees keep only the most essential projects on track during the government shutdown.

Events organized by NASA have also been canceled until further notice. Ames was expected to host a conference on artificial gravity, NASA researcher Lee Stone told reporters today (Oct. 11), but the government shutdown forced the agency to cancel the event. [6 Ways the Government Shutdown Will Impact Science and Health]

"I was supposed to be attending an international conference on artificial gravity to be held at Ames Research Center where scientists from all over the world were coming to discuss potential future technologies that could provide artificial gravity and therefore mitigate some of the problems of long-duration spaceflight," Stone said. "That conference was canceled and all of the potential benefits lost."

Stone also explained that the testing of a new tail design for a 757 airplane has also been put on hold by the shutdown. Ames has also been looking into the cause of the crash of Asiana Flight 214, which occurred in San Francisco in July. That work is also suspended.

Other scientific programs with international collaborations are also interrupted.

"The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which is a 747 airplane with a huge telescope on it, had a number of flights that were scheduled," Stone said. "Of course we have collaborators all over the country and it's an international project with major German collaboration from the German Space Agency. The flights are grounded, so all of that potential was lost."

Some of that "lost potentially" could be new research involving Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Astronomer and planet hunter Mike Brown was scheduled to fly aboard SOFIA to observe the mysterious moon, but the flight didn't get off the ground.

"Um, no, SOFIA is shut down," Brown (@plutokiller) wrote in a post on Twitter. "Europa is still there, but we, on the ground, will learn nothing except for the fruits of stupidity."

The American Astronomical Society is asking its members to send in their stories of the government shutdown. Officials with the AAS plan to use the information to craft a letter detailing the effects of the shutdown to lawmakers. You can submit your stories through the AAS website:

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Miriam Kramer
Miriam Kramer joined as a staff writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also serves as's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person.