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Shutdown Quiets NASA, So Space Station Astronauts Enjoy View

by Geoff Brumfiel
Oct 3, 2013

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Geoff Brumfiel

Of all the government agencies, NASA is among the hardest hit by the government shutdown. As of Oct. 1, nearly all of its employees have been told to pack up and head home.

But there are two NASA workers who can't leave the office, at least not without great expense to the taxpayer. Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins are orbiting some 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station. They're in touch with mission control, but it's not clear they have all that much to do.

Intriguingly, while nearly all of NASA's Twitter feeds are offline, Nyberg and Hopkins have both tweeted since the shutdown began. And their tweets hint that they might be just a weensy bit bored:

Neither astronaut immediately responded to an NPR reporter's tweet, asking them whether they were among the furloughed NASA employees.

Update, Oct. 4: Meanwhile on the ground, Houston Television station KHOU reports that one furloughed ISS scientist is now running an online grocery delivery business to make ends meet during the shutdown.

Update, Oct. 4: A furloughed space station scientist has told NPR that the astronauts are continuing a full schedule of work despite the shutdown.

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